There is an intense mental toll of reaching—and remaining—at the pinnacle of a sport. “The top six inches of the body matter just as much the rest,” says Matthew Cunliffe, a sports psychologist, who spoke with Quartz about what goes through the minds of elite athletes and how psychologists can help them win. The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
As with other treatment providers, recommendations from family or friends are a great place to start. You can also check with a therapist, naturopath, or acupuncturist for recommendations. There are several databases of certified hypnotherapists online too. Try checking the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis’s database, or the General Hypnotherapy Register. You’ll want to check the therapist’s website before you choose, making sure to look for credentials and testimony from previous patients if available.

Arousal regulation refers to entering into and maintaining an optimal level of cognitive and physiological activation in order to maximize performance. This may include relaxation if one becomes too anxious through methods such as progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, and meditation, or the use of energizing techniques (e.g., listening to music, energizing cues) if one is not alert enough.[46] The use of meditation and specifically, mindfulness, is a growing practice in the field of arousal recognition. The Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) Theory is the most common form of mindfulness in sport and was formed in 2001. The aim of MAC is to maximize human potential for a rich, full and meaningful life.[47] It includes specific protocol that involve meditation and acceptance practices on a regular basis as well as before and during competition. These protocol have been tested various times using NCAA men's and women's basketball players. In a study done by Frank L. Gardner, an NCAA women's basketball player increased her personal satisfaction in her performances from 2.4 out of 10 to 9.2 out of 10 after performing the specific MAC protocol for several weeks. Also, the effect of mental barriers on her game decreased from 8 out of 8 to 2.2 out of 8 during that same time period as a result of the MAC protocol.[48] Another study of the MAC protocol performed by Frank Gardner and Zella Moore on an adolescent competitive diver showed that when the MAC protocol is tailored to a specific population, it has the potential to provide performance enhancement. In this case, the vocabulary and examples in the protocol were tailored to be more practical for a 12-year-old. After performed the MAC protocol for several weeks, the diver showed between a 13 to 14 percent increase in his diving scores.[49] This finding is important because previously the majority of tests performed using the MAC protocol had been on world class athletes.
In the UK, up to 5% of the general population is underweight, but more than 10% of those with lung or gastrointestinal diseases and who have recently had surgery.[29] According to data in the UK using the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool ('MUST'), which incorporates unintentional weight loss, more than 10% of the population over the age of 65 is at risk of malnutrition.[29] A high proportion (10-60%) of hospital patients are also at risk, along with a similar proportion in care homes.[29]
Imagery (or motor imagery) can be defined as using multiple senses to create or recreate experiences in one's mind.[56] Additionally, the more vivid images are, the more likely they are to be interpreted by the brain as identical to the actual event, which increases the effectiveness of mental practice with imagery.[57] Good imagery, therefore, attempts to create as lifelike an image as possible through the use of multiple senses (e.g., sight, smell, kinesthetic), proper timing, perspective, and accurate portrayal of the task.[58] Both anecdotal evidence from athletes and research findings suggest imagery is an effective tool to enhance performance and psychological states relevant to performance (e.g., confidence).[59] This is a concept commonly used by coaches and athletes the day before an event.
Across all business sectors and areas of professional practice, workers confront significant transitions. When transitioning into leadership roles, they cannot rely on their old ways of conducting themselves. They must transform their mindset and behavior patterns in order to succeed in the new role. Technical skills and know-how are no longer sufficient. They must also learn to collaborate with C-suite executives, develop novel business opportunities, and inspire their colleagues and direct reports with a well-articulated vision of success.
This is the ability to plan and maintain one's regular schedule in a way that avoids confusion, conflict and undue stress. Common time management techniques include: (a) teaching how to use a planner, (b) learning about the demands of a task, (c) setting legitimate goals for tasks, (d) understanding the demands of one’s life (managing role conflict), and (e) developing pre–performance routines.
“Volunteers are driven by completely different motives than employees are,” Denburg explained. “I had a habit of rolling in and expecting people to keep up and jump into action. With this job, I had to learn to be more intentional about setting the stage to engage people.” She made the shift from leading through accountability and authority to leading through influence.
Coachability, in my opinion, is the number-one success factor to consider. The reason is that no matter how experienced or effective the coach might be, no change of the executive (coachee) will occur if the executive does not want to change, recognize the need to change, or does not take responsibility for the change needed. The executive needs to be open to feedback, willing to use the feedback to commit to change, and be willing to be held accountable to the commitment.
Recently some studies have been influenced by an evolutionary psychology perspective.[45] This includes studies on testosterone changes in sports which at least for males are similar to those in status conflicts in non-human primates with testosterone levels increasing and decreasing as an individual's status changes. A decreased testosterone level may decrease dominant and competitive behaviors which when the status conflicts involved fighting may have been important for preventing physical injury to the loser as further competition is avoided.[citation needed] Testosterone levels also increase before sports competitions, in particular if the event is perceived as real challenge as compared to not being important.[citation needed] Testosterone may also be involved in the home advantage effect which has similarities to animal defense of their home territory.[citation needed] In some sports there is a marked overrepresentation of left-handedness which has similarities to left-handed likely having an advantage in close combat which may have evolutionary explanations.[citation needed]
We don’t aim to use scare tactics because research from the field of neuropsychology has shown that scaring smokers doesn't help them stop (1) In fact what most smokers do when they’ve been scared is…reach for the cigarettes. Scary anti-smoking pictures of, for example, diseased lungs have been show not to deter smoking but stimulate a part of the brain known as the “craving spot.” (1) (2)
Across all business sectors and areas of professional practice, workers confront significant transitions. When transitioning into leadership roles, they cannot rely on their old ways of conducting themselves. They must transform their mindset and behavior patterns in order to succeed in the new role. Technical skills and know-how are no longer sufficient. They must also learn to collaborate with C-suite executives, develop novel business opportunities, and inspire their colleagues and direct reports with a well-articulated vision of success.
I passed this diagnosis along to the executive vice president of human resources, and he concurred. Mansfield’s coaching ceased, and after her boss and I conducted a carefully crafted intervention he agreed to seek outpatient psychotherapy. Several years later, Mansfield was thriving as a manager, and she had developed a more fulfilling personal life.
I find it extremely rewarding to be able to make a difference in people’s lives, not just in the quality of their performances, but also in their life satisfaction and overall well-being. When athletes are able to see the fruit of their work in developing performance skills and reducing performance barriers, it is rewarding to have been a part of that process.
Recently some studies have been influenced by an evolutionary psychology perspective.[45] This includes studies on testosterone changes in sports which at least for males are similar to those in status conflicts in non-human primates with testosterone levels increasing and decreasing as an individual's status changes. A decreased testosterone level may decrease dominant and competitive behaviors which when the status conflicts involved fighting may have been important for preventing physical injury to the loser as further competition is avoided.[citation needed] Testosterone levels also increase before sports competitions, in particular if the event is perceived as real challenge as compared to not being important.[citation needed] Testosterone may also be involved in the home advantage effect which has similarities to animal defense of their home territory.[citation needed] In some sports there is a marked overrepresentation of left-handedness which has similarities to left-handed likely having an advantage in close combat which may have evolutionary explanations.[citation needed]
Because of shows like "Billions," the need and desire for coaching has expanded tremendously. The idea that someone can help you build muscles in the gym is now relating to someone coaching a C-suite executive through pivotal decisions while managing stress. Now that is huge progress. Who wouldn’t want less stress and more productivity in their lives? - Neeta Bhushan, Global GRIT Institute
In a hypnotherapy session, after identifying client goals for the session and reviewing how the session will proceed, the practitioner will use guided imagery and soothing speech to help the person to feel relaxed and safe. When the recipient of hypnosis has achieved a more receptive state, the practitioner will provide suggestions that could help the person reach his or her goals. The person in the trancelike state remains aware and is usually able to return to a more alert state independently once the session is over. Some people find that just one hypnotherapy session is sufficient, and others may attend several sessions.
Athletes aren't the only ones that can benefit from sport psychology, however, although they are the most likely. Some individuals who are in the middle of high stress and highly competitive careers might also benefit from a few counseling sessions with sport psychologists. This can include professionals such as business people, performing artists, and politicians.
Once the bachelor’s degree is finished, a master’s degree is the next step. This may be specifically in sports psychology, or could be in psychology with a concentration in sports psychology. The final degree is either a PsyD or PhD in sports psychology. Some schools offer joint degrees that combine the master’s and doctoral degrees; a small number offer the doctorate degree to students with only a bachelor’s degree, but this is rare.

It was a roller coaster of emotion. I really used my illness as a turning point. Since I had to relearn to eat, I started with healthier options, like yogurt and vegetables, and really changed my diet from there. What kept me motivated was continuing to shed pounds, my clothes getting looser, and the sizes getting smaller. I partially became obsessed with seeing how low I could possibly go. Could I get to a size small? A size 5?

There are different approaches that a sports psychologist can use while working with his clients. For example, the social-psychological approach focuses on the social environment and the individual's personality, and on how complex interactions between the two influence behavior. The psycho-physiological approach focuses on the processes of the brain and their influence on physical activity, and the cognitive-behavioral approach analyzes the ways in which individual thoughts determine behavior. Generally, there are two different types of sport psychologists: educational and clinical.
What can organizations expect when their employees receive coaching? Clark, a certified coach herself, said the area that receives the biggest impact from coaching is self-awareness. “Any opportunity for people to understand themselves better is a good thing,” she said. “Our job is to make sure people continue to develop personally as they hone their technical skills. Managers need to understand how they come across to others. Not only do they learn how to become more effective, they discover the negative impact of not changing.”
Whether you're new to a leadership role or responsible for supporting a transition, we offer coaching customized to your individual needs and the context of your organization. The process aims to focus on the wider work-related agenda, notably on changes in organizational culture and supporting people in successfully handling their own particular management and leadership challenges.
Elite athletes, dancers and singers all have coaches. It would be inconceivable to expect a person to go it alone in professions like those without one. They require consistently high performance and support. The business world is no different. Executives interact in an equally demanding environment leading people in today’s complex, competitive global marketplace. Therefore, being offered a professional coach is often seen as a perk on most jobs; it’s a sign that an organization is investing in a leaders’ success.
There are varying theories throughout both the medical and psychological arenas as to how the process of hypnosis works. Some experts believe that people who practice hypnosis effectively are predisposed to this therapy or have developed enhanced cognitive and interpersonal abilities that allow them to respond accordingly to hypnotic cues and conditions. Recent studies have shown that this form of communication actually alters elements of a person’s neurological and physiological mechanisms.
Hypnosis, when using proven therapeutic procedures, can be a highly effective form of treatment for many mental, psychosomatic, and physical disorders. For example, through the use of regressive techniques, an adult patient may mentally voyage back to a point in youth that was particularly troublesome, allowing the healing of old emotional wounds. Another patient can be led to understand that emotional pain has been converted to physical pain, and that the pain can be eliminated once the source has been addressed. Or, a person suffering from chronic pain can be taught to control the pain without use of medications. There are a number of techniques for correcting dysfunctional behaviors such as self-destructive habits, anxiety disorders, and even managing side effects of various medical treatments and procedures.
We have created the two-year part-time Ashridge Masters in Executive Coaching in response to the emergence of executive coaching as an established and distinct profession within the international field of individual and organizational development. Our aim is to raise the standard of coaching both professionally and ethically. The program draws on theories from complexity science, sociology and psychology to come to a distinct understanding of organizations and hence the role of both coaches and clients.
This coaching is for a minimum of six months up to one year. The focus is to identify and prioritize developmental issues and goals with an action plan. The coach will gather data via a client questionnaire, a 360 degree feedback process, and/or other diagnostic assessments such as Myers-Briggs, Strength Finders, etc. The coach is responsible for working with the executive to determine the plan, its implementation and subsequent follow-up.  The coach also lends support to the client in addressing and focusing on strategic issues of the organization, while simultaneously addressing personal developmental issues.
Although hypnotherapy can seem strange, perhaps even implausible, it is regarded as potentially effective in treating a variety of ailments, particularly phobias, addictions, and problematic habits. Hypnosis may also be used to help patients cope with stress, smoking cessation, and chronic pain, and some women even opt to use hypnosis to manage the pain of childbirth. In patients with trauma-related conditions such as posttraumatic stress (PTSD), therapists may attempt to talk to clients about their traumatic memories under hypnosis.

While there as many different hypnosis techniques as there are brands of cigarettes, a typical program will usually begin with a phone consultation, followed by an in-person session where the client is walked through breathing and visualization exercises and then “induced” into a “trance” — which is essentially a state of extreme relaxation. Once the patient is in the trance, and his “suggestibility” is maximized, the practitioner makes statements (“I am uninterested in cigarettes” or “I hate the smell of smoke on my clothing”) that will hopefully take root and change the client’s behavior. Then the client is “awakened,” or brought out of the hypnotic state. In short, a hypnotherapist verbally guides a client to a hyper-responsive, hyper-attentive state in which the patient’s subconscious mind (the part that tells them that smoking is cool and totally worth it) is in its most persuadable state, and then replaces the harmful or unwanted thoughts with positive, healthy ones.


Although both the organization and the executive must be committed to coaching for it to be successful, the idea to engage a coach can originate from either HR and leadership development professionals or from executives themselves. In the past, it has more often sprung from the organizational side. But given the growing track record of coaching as a tool for fast movers, "We see more executives choosing coaching as a proactive component of their professional life," says Cheryl Leitschuh, a leadership development consultant with RSM McGladrey (Bloomington, Minnesota).
That's in part because there isn't enough data. While some studies have shown positive results, they differ too much for anyone to draw a solid conclusion. Few studies that have been done over the years met HHS’s inclusion criteria, owing in part to the vast array of methodologies used. “There was no common or standard intervention technique to analyze,” the guidelines read. “Moreover, an independent review of nine hypnotherapy trials by the Cochrane Group found insufficient evidence to support hypnosis as a treatment for smoking cessation.”

These professionals typically work with each individual or group to determine how to improve strategies and build a positive game plan that will meet the needs of all patients involved. In addition to utilizing techniques to build team morale and motivation, methods of treating anxiety and other personal mental health issues are taken into consideration by psychologists in this field.


Sometimes I think of a story for a teaching example later, and I’m unable to contact the client for permission. In these situations, I change identifying details. This can be tricky, because simply omitting the name, time, and place of the event you’re describing is not enough to ensure that someone who knows the client well would not recognize the story. Certain details, like a unique physical trait combined with a sport or interest could be enough to identify the client. Therefore, I change those types of details as well.
It appears that hypnosis, under other names, has been used since the beginning of time. In fact, it has been insinuated that the earliest description of hypnosis may be portrayed in the Old Testament and in the Talmud. There is also evidence of hypnosis in ancient Egypt, some 3,000 years ago. However, the man credited with the development of what has become modern hypnosis is Friedrich Anton Mesmer, an Austrian physician. One day, Mesmer watched a magician on a street in Paris demonstrate that he could have spectators do his bidding by touching them with magnets. Fascinated by the demonstration, Mesmer believed the magnets had power of their own and from this belief developed his theory of "animal magnetism." He also believed that good health depended on having correct magnetic flow and that the direction of one's magnetic flow could be reversed easily. He further believed that he could direct this magnetic flow into inanimate objects, that could then be used for the good health of others. The term "mesmerism" came to be applied to his mystical workings. He experienced much success in helping the people of Paris as well as visitors who came from other countries, upon hearing of his powers. Later he was completely discredited by a special commission of the French Academy appointed by the King of France, causing him to leave the country. Two of the more famous members of the French Academy at the time were chairman of the commission Benjamin Franklin, American ambassador to France, and Dr. Guillotine, the inventor of the execution device.

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I have no prior experience with hypnosis.  I went into this with no expectations, but I did have the willingness to quit smoking.  I have tried nicoderm patches, nicoderm gum, Chantix, Wellbutrin, cold turkey, weaning off, etc...for the last two years.  The most I ever got were 28 agonizing days.  The cravings never went away.  Then I met with Rita Black and here I am 6 weeks later to share how amazed I am with the success of our 1 meeting!  I walked out of Rita's office a non-smoker in every way.  Rita explained to me how to manage the "cravings" if and when they come.  I have totally regained my power against smoking.  I highly recommend this life saving service (not to mention, financial savings).

While executives can hire their own coaches (usually CEOs or business owners), it’s more common for companies (often Human Resources) to recommend a coach to an executive as a part of an executive development program. The coachee could be newly promoted (transition coaching), be facing a number of challenges (usually involving people relationships), or is being groomed for larger roles. And yes, coaches are still hired to correct behavioral problems and help leaders resolve interpersonal conflicts.


An obvious area is volleyball and beach volleyball athletes, given that those were my sports. I’m also an expert at working with youth up-and-coming athletes, starting as young as nine years of age. I really enjoy working with athletes on the origin of their fear and providing tools for them to breakthrough whatever it is that’s preventing them from getting to the next level in their sport.
Not all CEOs experience transference. Even so, coaches can easily expand their influence—from training to all-purpose advising—because CEOs don’t like to lose face. Company leaders understand what coaches do and often feel personally responsible for selecting them. As a result, they feel more accountable for their coaches’ successes or failures than they would if a psychotherapist were assigned to the case. In the same vein, when the CEO personally endorses a business plan, a number of psychological factors conspire to make it difficult to abandon that plan. Garvin was confronted with that situation when he authorized systemwide use of Nelson’s personnel development procedures.
Gastrointestinal disorders are another common cause of unexplained weight loss – in fact they are the most common non-cancerous cause of idiopathic weight loss.[citation needed] Possible gastrointestinal etiologies of unexplained weight loss include: celiac disease, peptic ulcer disease, inflammatory bowel disease (crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), pancreatitis, gastritis, diarrhea and many other GI conditions.
While the findings about the efficacy of hypnosis on smoking are often murky, studies on the matter have shown increasingly positive results. Even Matt Damon and Charlize Theron have gotten in on the act. And the folks offering the service aren’t bearded men dangling pocket watches and telling you how heavy your eyelids are getting, or seeing patients in dingy basements outfitted with lava lamps and burning incense. Rather they’re people with advanced degrees who practice in the same kinds of clinics where you’d see your shrink or your ophthalmologist; rates usually start at around $80 per hour and can go as high as $200 (most practitioners recommend between one and four sessions).
Americans are snacking more than ever, so making smart snacking choices are key to achieving your weight loss goals. Aim for snacks that satisfy by choosing foods that provide a mix of protein and fiber, stabilizing blood sugar levels and keeping hunger at bay. An apple and almond butter, a plain yogurt with berries, or high-fiber crispbread crackers and hummus can all be smart snacking options. For example, two Wasa Flax Seed crispbread crackers combined with two tablespoons of hummus provide 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber for staying power. For an added boost, add a few teaspoons of hot sauce. Research shows spicy foods may help speed up metabolism and curb appetite.
“Volunteers are driven by completely different motives than employees are,” Denburg explained. “I had a habit of rolling in and expecting people to keep up and jump into action. With this job, I had to learn to be more intentional about setting the stage to engage people.” She made the shift from leading through accountability and authority to leading through influence.
Competence of the coach is the fourth important factor that is often mentioned to determine success in the coaching arrangement. At a minimum coaches should be creditable, educated and certified. They should have a coaching process that includes helping the client set an action plan in order to change behavior as well as a process to measure change. The International Coaches Federation estimates that over 10,000 people call themselves coaches, yet not all are effective. The coach should have a philosophy of coaching for sustainable change; in other words, the coaching commitment should be “transformational” and not “transactional”.

Sports psychology is a relatively young discipline within psychology. In 1920, Carl Diem founded the world’s first sports psychology laboratory at the Deutsche Sporthochschule in Berlin, Germany. In 1925, two more sports psychology labs were established – one by A.Z. Puni at the Institute of Physical Culture in Leningrad and the other by Coleman Griffith at the University of Illinois.
Skill used to help improve group cohesion and individual interactions in a sport setting (e.g., athlete–athlete, athlete–coach, coach–parent). Techniques used with this skill include: (a) teaching active listening and communicating skills (reflecting, clarifying, encouraging, paraphrasing), (b) helping individuals create a free and open environment, and (c) assertiveness training.
Life skills refer to the mental, emotional, behavioral, and social skills and resources developed through sport participation.[34] Research in this area focuses on how life skills are developed and transferred from sports to other areas in life (e.g., from tennis to school) and on program development and implementation.[35] Burnout in sport is typically characterized as having three dimensions: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a reduced sense of accomplishment.[36] Athletes who experience burnout may have different contributing factors, but the more frequent reasons include perfectionism, boredom, injuries, excessive pressure, and overtraining.[37] Burnout is studied in many different athletic populations (e.g., coaches), but it is a major problem in youth sports and contributes to withdrawal from sport. Parenting in youth sport is necessary and critical for young athletes. Research on parenting explores behaviors that contribute to or hinder children’s participation. For example, research suggests children want their parents to provide support and become involved, but not give technical advice unless they are well-versed in the sport.[38] Excessive demands from parents may also contribute to burnout.
Financial coaching is a relatively new form of coaching that focuses on helping clients overcome their struggle to attain specific financial goals and aspirations they have set for themselves. Financial coaching is a one-on-one relationship in which the coach works to provide encouragement and support aimed at facilitating attainment of the client's financial plans. A financial coach, also called money coach, typically focuses on helping clients to restructure and reduce debt, reduce spending, develop saving habits, and develop financial discipline. In contrast, the term financial adviser refers to a wider range of professionals who typically provide clients with financial products and services. Although early research links financial coaching to improvements in client outcomes, much more rigorous analysis is necessary before any causal linkages can be established.[20]
Sports have always been a big part of my life and culture, so it is a great fit for me personally to be involved in a profession that allows me to make an impact in areas for which I have a true passion. I also enjoy the fact that I am able to address both performance enhancement and mental skills training while still being able to offer assistance to athletes and performers who are stuck, or are experiencing issues that hinder their performance or life satisfaction. Additionally, compared to other branches of psychology, sports psychology utilizes many techniques and interventions that require very active participation from both the psychologist and the client. That is another factor that is very fitting with my approach.
Many of the clucking chicken images are the result of hypnosis’s forefather, Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815). Mesmer believed that there was an invisible force, a cosmic energy, that could be harnessed by one person to influence another person’s behavior. While his theory was wrong, the techniques he used were effective. These techniques were picked up on and developed over the coming years for therapeutic and medical purposes. Sigmund Freud, for instance, used hypnosis techniques. In the mid-1900s, hypnotherapy as we know it evolved. Milton Erickson (1901-1980) pioneered “indirect hypnosis,” during which therapists work with individual patients to shift their perceptions of themselves and their issues.
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