THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Achieving the Hypnotic Trance, Hypnotic Phase

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Sport Psychology(psy407)
Lesson 29
The Hypnotic Trait Issue
A hypnotic state is a situation-specific response tho hypnotic suggestions and induction, while the hypnotic
trait is more of a personality disposition toward hypnotic responsiveness. There are at least three principles
that can be identified relative to the trait issue, they are:
1. Hypnotic responding does not require any particular skill or abilities. When proper procedures are used,
almost anyone can become highly responsive to suggestion.
2. Hypnotic responding requires some stable imaginative inclination or other cognitive abilities. This
alone, however, is not sufficient to produce suggested responses. The individual must be sufficiently
convinced that she is capable of responding and be motivated to that end.
3. It is likely that responsiveness to the most difficult suggestions, such as amnesia and hallucinations,
require a rare aptitude that cannot be taught.
Facts about Hypnosis and Its Application
Psychologists are divided on what the hypnotic trance is, and on whether there is such a thing as an altered
state of consciousness relative to hypnosis, but they are in general agreement about the application of
The ability to experience hypnotic phenomenon does not indicate gullibility or personality weakness.
Hypnosis is not the same as sleep, nor is it related to sleep.
Hypnotic responsiveness depends more on the efforts and abilities of the individual being hypnotized
than on the skill of the therapist.
4.  While hypnotized, individuals retain the ability to control their behavior, are aware of their
surroundings, and can monitor events outside the framework of suggestions given during hypnosis
5.  Spontaneous amnesia or forgetting is relatively rare following hypnosis.
6.  An individual does not need to be hypnotized to be responsive to suggestions.
7.  The function of a hypnotic induction is to increase suggestibility to a minor degree.
8.  Hypnosis is not a dangerous procedure when practiced by qualified researchers and clinicians.
9.  Most hypnotized individuals are not faking compliance to suggestions or merely going along eith
suggestions to be cooperative.
10. Hypnosis cannot increase the accuracy of memory.
11. Hypnosis does not precipitate a literal re-experiencing of childhood events.
Achieving the Hypnotic Trance
Five phases are associated with hypnotic trance in subject. They are preparation of the subject, the
induction process, the hypnotic phase, waking up, and the posthypnotic phase.
Preparation of the Subject
When subjects are prepared for hypnotism, they must be relieved of any fear and apprehensions they have
about hypnotism. Some myths may need to be exposed. For example, subjects may be under the impression
that they will lose control, that they will be unaware of their surroundings, or they will lose consciousness.
They must have complete trust in the hypnotist and must want to be hypnotized. They also must be told
that they will remain in control at all times and will be able to come out of the hypnotic trance if they want
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Sport Psychology(psy407)
Induction Phase
It is during the hypnotic induction phase that the hypnotist actually hypnotizes the subject. There are many
induction techniques. The best ones are associated with relaxation, attentional focus, and imagery. In fact,
the steps involved in eliviting the relaxation response using these techniques are essentially identical to those
in hypnosis.
Generally, induction procedures are fairly standard. They are typically composed of a series of suggestions
aimed at eliciting the subject's cooperation and directing his attention to thoughts and feelings about being
relaxed and peaceful.
Hypnotic Phase
Once the hypnotic state has been induced, the subject is in neutral hypnosis. In this state, physiological
responses are identical to those of the relaxation response. The hypnotized subject is generally asked to
respond, either in imagination or physically, to suggestions of the hypnotist.
Waking Up
This phase is coming out of the trance. Actually, a hypnotized subject can come out of the trance anytime.
The only reason subjects do not come out on their own is that they don't want to. The relationship between
the hypnotist and the subject can be very pleasant one. When the hypnotist wishes to bring a subject out of
trance, he or she does so simply by suggesting that the subject wake up on a given signal.
Post-hypnotic Phase
Suggestions given to subjects during hypnosis are often designed to influence them during the post-
hypnotic phase, or ather they have come out of the hypnotic trance. Posthypnotic suggestions given to
athletes should focus on the way they should feel in certain competitive situations.
There are two kinds of hypnosis. The first kind is heterohypnosis, and the second is self-hypnosis, or
autohypnosis. Our discussion up to this point has focused on heterohypnosis, that which is induced by
another person, usually a trained therapist or a psychologist. Heterohypnosis should be practiced only be
skilled professionals. Heterohypnosis is based upon a delicate rapport and trust between the therapist and
the client. There are two kinds of self-hypnosis. The first is self-induced, and the second is induced as a
posthypnotic suggestion following heterohypnosis.
The phases involved in self-hypnosis are identical to those outlined for hypnosis generally. First, the athlete
must be completely comfortable regarding the use of hypnosis. Some common strategies for induction are
to sit in an easy chair and stare at a spot on the wall, imagine a blank screen, or look into a mirror.
Posthypnotic suggestions given during self-hypnosis should always be couched in positive terms, stressing
what is to be accomplished rather than dwelling on negative things to be eliminated.
Improving the Effectiveness of Hypnosis
Five factors have been identified that can influence the effectiveness of hypnosis, they are:
1. The competence of the professional therapist, or the skill of the athlete.
2. The quality of the relationship between therapist and individual being hypnotized is important.
3. The therapist must do her homework and get to know the person being hypnotized.
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Sport Psychology(psy407)
4. Effective outcomes require practice of the procedures and instructions given during hypnosis.
5. It works best if therapist and athlete both recognize the limitations of hypnosis.
Hypnosis and Athletic Performance
Is hypnosis effective in facilitating athletic performance? Research on this topic yields a number of basic
principles. A list of basic principles gleaned from the literature is provided below :
The more open and susceptible an athlete is to suggestions, the more likely it is that he will benefit from
suggestions given to him under hypnosis. This is also the type of individual who is more likely to be
Once an individual is hypnotized, the deeper the trance is that she is able to achieve, the more likely it is
that suggestions given under hypnosis will be effective.
Positive suggestions are effective in facilitating performance, regardless of ehrther or not the athlete is
General arousal techniques are more useful than hypnotic suggestions in enhancing muscular strength
and endurance. Hypnosis tends to relax an athlete.
Negative suggestions almost always cause a decrement in performance.
Hypnosis may be able to help a successful athlete, but it cannot make a good performer out of a poor
If properly used, hypnosis may be effective in enhancing the suggestibility of athletes. The heightened
suggestibility of athletes may lead to cognitive or behavioral adjustments that may facilitate performance. It
is important, however, to not overstate the effectiveness of hypnosis in improving athletic performance.
Positive suggestions are beneficial to the athlete, regardless of whether the athlete is hypnotized or not.
Hypnosis is not effective in enhancing muscular strength and endurance. Finally, a real danger exists in
inadvertently giving an athlete a negative duggestion while he is in a state of hyper suggestibility.
Cox, H. Richard. (2002). Sport Psychology: Concepts and Applications. (Fifth Edition). New York: McGraw-
Hill Companies
Lavallec. D., Kremer, J., Moran, A., & Williams. M. (2004) Sports Psychology: Contemporary Themes. New
York: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers
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Table of Contents:
  1. SPORT PSYCHOLOGY DEFINED:Issue of Certification, The Research Sport Psychologist
  2. SELF-CONFIDENCE AND SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Successful Performance, Verbal persuasion
  3. SELECTING SELF-TALK STATEMENTS:Skill accusation, Controlling effort
  4. GOAL ORIENTATION:Goal Involvement, Motivational Climate
  5. CAUSAL ATTRIBUTION IN SPORT:Fritz Heiderís Contribution, Other Considerations
  7. MOTIVATION IN SPORT:Social Factors, Success and Failure, Coachesí Behavior
  9. PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE GOAL SETTING:Clearly identify time constraints
  10. A TEAM APPROACH TO SETTING GOALS:The Planning Phase, The Meeting Phase
  11. YOUTH SPORT:Distress and anxiety, Coach-Parent Relationships
  12. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Information Processing, Memory Systems
  13. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Measuring Attentional Focus
  14. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Personality Defined, Psychodynamic Theory
  15. THE MEASUREMENT OF PERSONALITY:Projective Procedures, Structured Questionnaire
  16. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Athletic Motivation Inventory, Personality Sport Type
  21. COPING STRATEGIES IN SPORT:Measurement of Coping Skill
  22. RELAXATION STRATEGIES FOR SPORT:Progressive Relaxation, Autogenic Training
  23. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Team Energizing Strategies, Fan Support
  24. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Precompetition Workout, Individual Goal Setting
  25. IMAGERY:Skill Level of the Athletes, Time Factors and Mental Practice
  26. IMAGERY:Symbolic Learning Theory, Imagery Perspective. Sensory Mode
  27. IMAGERY:Paivioís Two-Dimensional Model, Developing Imagery Skills
  28. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Defining Hypnosis, Social-Cognitive Theory
  29. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Achieving the Hypnotic Trance, Hypnotic Phase
  30. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Psychological Skills Training Program
  31. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Performance profiling, Performance routines
  32. ETHICS IN SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Competence, Integrity, Social Responsibility
  33. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:Defining Aggression, Catharsis hypothesis
  34. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:The Catharsis Effect, Fan Violence
  35. AUDIENCE AND CROWD EFFECTS IN SPORTS:Social Facilitation, Crowd Hostility
  36. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Measurement of Team Cohesion
  37. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Predicting Future Participation, Team Building
  38. LEADERSHIP IN SPORT:Fiedlerís Contingency Theory, Coach-Athlete Compatibility
  39. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Special Populations, Clinical Patients
  40. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Social Interaction Hypothesis, Amine Hypothesis
  41. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:The Theory of Planned Behavior, Social Cognitive Theory
  42. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Exercise Addiction, Bulimia Nervosa, Muscle Dysmorphia
  43. BURNOUT IN ATHLETES:Overtraining and Overreaching, Recommended Intervention
  44. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ATHLETIC INJURIES:Personality Factors, Coping Resources
  45. DRUG ABUSE IN SPORT AND EXERCISE:Stimulants, Depressants