Hypno Olympics

Olympic Bronze Medalist Shannon Bahrke Uses Hypnosis to Improve Performance

Hypnotism was once the sole domain of quacky circus magicians, but that’s changing Now a milder version of it called hypnotherapy can help elite athletes overcome fears that prevent them from performing their best Just ask moguls skier. Shannon Bahrke

“Having that good plan, getting a good visualization of where you’re at, being aware of negative self-talk, and giving yourself positive affirmations-I worked on a lot of those things, but in my heart and soul I didn’t believe it,” she says “That’s where my hypnotherapist came into play”.

Here’s how it works, according to Randy Shaw, Bahrke’s hypnotherapist in Salt Lake City: Fear in the subconscious mind instigated by, say, a bad crash or injury-can cause a lack of concentration and lead to a decline in performance By accessing the subconscious mind and identifying those fears, athletes can overcome them.

“When a bad feeling comes up, it’s connected to another time when we felt like that,” explains Shaw “What I do is help you release what happened in the past so that it has no power over you in the now” Or, as Trent Petrie, the director of the Center for Sport Psychology at the  University of North Texas, explains: “With a lot of athletes, particularly those who have a lot of tension, hypnotherapy helps them relax in the moment so they can perform”.

However you explain it, it works for Barhke, who now listens to a ten minute recorded hypnotherapy session before competition “For me, your mental state is so important,” attests Bahrke “Everyone in my sport is fast and strong and fit and can ski the hell out of anything, but it’s who can sit in a gate and put down the best run when it counts That’s 99% mental”.

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