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Using a single-subject multiple baseline design, combined with assessments of participants’ internal experience (Wollman, 1986), the efficacy of a hypnotic intervention on flow state and competitive cycling performance was assessed in three elite cyclists. Intervention involved relaxation, imagery, hypnotic induction, hypnotic regression, and the conditioning of an unconscious trigger associated with the emotions of past peak performance. Ecologically valid performance measures were collected from British Cycling Federation (BCF) races, and the intensity of flow was assessed using Jackson and Marsh’s (1996) Flow State Scale (FSS). Results indicated that the number of BCF points gained per race was positively influenced in one participant, sporadically influenced in the second participant, and not influenced in the third participant. FSS scores during the intervention phase increased for one participant. These findings suggest that hypnotic interventions may improve elite competitive cycling performance and increase the feelings and cognitions associated with flow.
The authors are with the Centre for Sport and Exercise Science at Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK. E-mail: I.W.Maynard@shu.ac.uk.