Make a Habit of Mental Training

Now that you have learned how to build a mental training model by identifying and making corrections in your sport, pick a time each day when you can use self-hypnosis for mental practice. You may wish to practice during your normal training schedule, if you have one, or you may practice at another time. Even if you are a “weekend warrior” or if you just play occasionally, you can still train mentally on a regular basis.

Establish Your Habit

Establish a time each day, or several days a week, where you can devote half an hour or more to practicing mental sports imagery. Look for any resistance that may sabotage your sports imagery training: friends or family, business, or even your own energy or mood. If you are taking time away from others, they may feel you are shutting them out. The more you make them feel a part of your mental training, the more they may encourage you to practice self-hypnosis. You may want to make yourself a tape or memorize a script to help you reach a good trance level.

Find a comfortable place with as little outside interference as possible. Loosen your clothes, take a deep breath of air, exhale slowly, and let your eyes go out of focus, relaxing more and more with each breath. You may let your muscles relax, and when you're ready, let your eyes close and slowly count yourself down from five to zero. Suggest to yourself that when you reach zero, you will be able to experience your sports mental training image with all five senses, creating as strong an image as possible. Your imagery may be a little different each time you practice, and you can always make corrections and change the images anytime you want.

You may suggest that you look forward to experiencing this imagery. Anytime you feel the need, you may always open your eyes or move your body and end your mental training trance. You may practice the same situation several times, or you may run different images. As you practice, visualize the scene, feel your muscles responding, hear positive sounds of encouragement, and taste and smell the experience of working to the best of your sports potential.

Develop Zone Anchors

Now imagine yourself responding to your mental training when you are actually participating in your sport. Give yourself a mental or physical anchor that helps you enter a sports Zone trance when you're ready to play. Imagine yourself using this anchor, and feel the experience of focusing and performing as you did during mental practice. Suggest to yourself that anytime you play your sport, you will be prepared to respond in many different situations to the best of your potential.

Athletes use physical and mental anchors all the time to help them get into the Zone. In baseball, each batter has a ritual of movements he uses before approaching the plate. The foul shooter in basketball often takes a deep breath and exhales or dribbles the basketball a certain number of times.

Now suggest to yourself that when you are playing your sport, you will always be prepared to respond at your highest potential. Practice triggering your anchors by feeling the words or actions you use when you are preparing to play your sport. Practice this several times in your mind.

Suggest to yourself that after you have counted yourself back up from zero to the surface of your conscious mind, you will automatically respond to your positive sports anchors. Suggest that when you use your triggers, you will go into your athletic Zone, very aware of everything you need to do to work to your highest potential. Suggest that you will be able to focus on the positive things you need to do to reach your potential, and when you're ready, count yourself back up to the surface of your mind from zero to five.

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