While there are a wide variety of approaches and styles of hypnotism employed today—something that further confounds our ability to understand it objectively, or to study it scientifically—one thing that they tend to have in common is an emphasis on relaxation, focus, harnessing a desire to change within the individual, and building linguistic and visual relationships between emotions. As the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists explains: “Hypnosis is simply a state of relaxed focus. It is a natural state. In fact, each of us enters such a state—sometimes called a trance state—at least twice a day: once when we are falling asleep, and once when we are waking up.”
Applied Sports Psychologists instruct individual athletes and sports teams on the various methods of mental conditioning, including visualization, concentration and relaxation techniques. Many sports psychologists work onsite with sports teams alongside coaches, trainers and managers. Others practice independently and perform consulting services on an as-needed basis.
The third element is suggestibility. The person becomes more responsive to suggestions given to him or her. Fourth is what he calls “involuntariness.” That means when you come out of hypnosis, you feel subjectively like you haven't done anything, but that something has been done to you. You may recognize that you're being told to lift you arm, for example, but you feel as if it is being lifted by some external force. Which makes sense, since when I reach for a cigarette, especially when I know I don't need it, I’m being governed by similar subconscious impulses.
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.
My weight had been an issue my whole life. I was always the chubby kid, always taller and bigger than my peers. Because of that, I was uncomfortable and depressed. I remember gym class in particular, because I was slower than all the other kids. It was an especially difficult time for me because it’s where I experienced the most bullying. When I was 18, the summer I had just graduated from high school, I lost all my friends. I was miserable, alone, depressed, and suicidal. It was after a failed suicide attempt that I realized I didn’t want to live my life like this anymore. I wanted to be comfortable and confident in my own skin.
In the 1950s, Milton H. Erickson developed a radically different approach to hypnotism, which has subsequently become known as "Ericksonian hypnotherapy" or "Neo-Ericksonian hypnotherapy." Erickson made use of an informal conversational approach with many clients and complex language patterns, and therapeutic strategies. This divergence from tradition led some of his colleagues, including Andre Weitzenhoffer, to dispute whether Erickson was right to label his approach "hypnosis" at all.