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Jamie B. Barker, Marc V. Jones, and Iain Greenlees

High levels of self-efficacy have been documented to be associated with optimal levels of sport performance. One technique, which has the potential to foster increased self-efficacy, is hypnosis. Hypnosis is based upon the power of suggestion and, while often shrouded in myth and controversy, has been used in a number of domains including medicine, dentistry, and psychotherapy. In contrast, sport psychology is one domain where the use of hypnosis has yet to be fully explored. The aim of this review is to add to the extant literature and delineate how hypnosis potentially can enhance self-efficacy. By drawing on neodissociation and nonstate theories of hypnosis, a combined theoretical basis is established to explain how hypnosis may be used to influence sport performers’ sources of self-efficacy information. Furthermore, the review examines these theoretical postulations by presenting contemporary research evidence exploring the effects of hypnosis on sport performers’ self-efficacy. The review concludes with future research directions and suggestions for sport psychologists considering the use of hypnosis within their practice.

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Jim Taylor, Richard Horevitz, and Gloria Balague

The present paper examines the value of hypnosis in applied sport psychology. The following issues will be addressed: (a) what is hypnosis?, (b) theoretical perspectives on hypnosis, (c) hypnotizability, (d) factors influencing the effectiveness of hypnosis, (e) misconceptions and concerns about hypnosis, (f) the hypnotic process, (g) research on hypnosis and athletic performance, (h) uses in applied sport psychology, and (i) training in hypnosis. These issues will be considered with respect to the particular needs of athletes and the specific demands of sport.

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Jason S. Grindstaff and Leslee A. Fisher

The purpose of this study was to explore sport psychology consultants’ experiences of using hypnosis in their practice. Specifically a better understanding of hypnosis utilization as a performance enhancement technique in applied sport psychology was sought. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with six sport psychology consultants (all PhDs) who each possessed training and experience related to hypnosis. Analysis of the interview data revealed a variety of major themes and subthemes related to the guiding interview questions: (a) hypnosis training and experience, (b) stereotypes and misconceptions related to hypnosis, (c) utilizing hypnosis as a performance enhancement technique, (d) advantages and disadvantages of using hypnosis with athletes, and (e) cultural considerations related to using hypnosis.

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Jamie B. Barker and Marc V. Jones

The present paper reports the impact of hypnosis, technique refinement, and selfmodeling on the self-efficacy levels of a cricket leg-spin bowler. A single-subject (A-B) design was employed with the collection of 8 baseline data points and 16 post-intervention data points that included 8 data points collected 7 months after the intervention. The intervention comprised three aspects. Aspect one focused on using hypnosis and self-hypnosis to increase self-efficacy. Aspect two was based around refining the bowler’s technique, focusing on the run-up, head position, and follow-through. Aspect three focused on self-modeling through the use of an edited videotape. The results revealed a significant difference between pre and post-intervention self-efficacy levels. This positive change was maintained in the long-term follow-up data. Also an increase in bowling performance was noted across the intervention. A number of consultancy issues are presented surrounding the use of hypnosis as part of a multimodal intervention.

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Jamie Barker, Marc Jones, and Iain Greenlees

This study evaluated the effects of hypnosis on self-efficacy and soccer performance. Fifty-nine collegiate soccer players were randomly allocated to either a hypnosis (n = 30) or video attention-control group (n = 29). A pretest–posttest design with an additional 4-week follow-up was used. Self-efficacy was measured via a task-specific questionnaire comprising 10 items relating to good performance on a soccer wall-volley task. The hypnotic intervention comprised three sessions using ego-strengthening suggestions. The control group watched edited videos of professional soccer games. Results indicated that, following the intervention, the hypnosis group were more efficacious and performed better than the control group. These differences were also seen at the 4-week follow-up stage. Although changes in self-efficacy were associated with changes in performance, the effect of hypnosis on performance was not mediated by changes in self-efficacy. The study demonstrates that hypnosis can be used to enhance and maintain self-efficacy and soccer wall-volley performance.

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Jamie B. Barker and Marc V. Jones

This study reports the effects of a hypnosis intervention on a professional soccer player who reported low self-efficacy and a negative mood state relative to his soccer performance. Pre- and postintervention data were collected via a Soccer Self-Efficacy Questionnaire (SSEQ) that consisted of 10 items relating to good soccer performance, the Trait Sport Confidence Inventory (TSCI), the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), and a Soccer Performance Measure (SPM). An intervention program consisting of eight hypnosis sessions was conducted. These sessions comprised the presentation of ego-strengthening suggestions. Both visual and statistical analysis revealed substantial increases in trait sport confidence, self-efficacy, positive affect, and soccer performance, as well as a substantial decrease in negative affect over the course of the intervention. The findings of this case study suggest that hypnosis can be used to enhance self-efficacy, affect, and sport performance. A number of practical issues are presented surrounding the use of hypnosis in the context of English soccer and with athletes in general.

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John Pates, Andy Cummings, and Ian Maynard

This study examined the effects of hypnosis on flow states and three-point shooting performance in 5 collegiate basketball players. The investigation utilized an ideographic single-subject multiple baselines across subjects design combined with a procedure that monitors the internal experience of the participants (Wollman, 1986). The method of intervention utilized in this study involved relaxation, imagery, hypnotic induction, hypnotic regression, and trigger control procedures. The results indicated that all five participants increased both their mean basketball three-point shooting performance and their mean flow scores from baseline to intervention. There were no overlapping data points between the baseline and intervention for either performance or flow state. Additionally, each participant indicated that they had felt the intervention was useful in keeping them confident, relaxed, and calm. These results support the hypothesis that a hypnosis intervention can improve three-point shooting performance in basketball players and increase feelings and cognitions that are associated with flow.

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Michael D. Ferrell, Robert L. Beach, Nikolaus M. Szeverenyi, Marlyn Krch, and Bo Fernhall

Performance at one's highest personal level is often accompanied by a palpable, yet enigmatic sensation that many athletes refer to as the zone. Competitive athletes regularly acknowledge that their top performances are dependent on achieving a zone state of performance. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technologies were used in observing differing patterns of neural activation that occur among athletes during a hypnotically recalled zone-state performance of eight accomplished, competitive right-handed archers. These data were compared to each participant's respective fMRI data of a hypnotically assisted recall of a normal performance. Analysis of composite group data revealed significant (p = 0.05) neural activation of zone performance (ZP) over normal performance (NP), suggesting that performance in a zone state involves identifiable characteristics of neural processing. Perhaps this investigation might stimulate additional, more creative research in identifying a psychophysiological indicator of the zone phenomenon that would provide adequate justification for a training regimen providing a more reliable and sustained zone performance.

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J. Robert Grove and Michael A.E. Lewis

Hypnotic susceptibility and prior experience were investigated as correlates of flowlike states during exercise. Heart rate was also examined as a potential correlate of flow. Circuit trainers (N = 96) completed a 10-item flow questionnaire and recorded their heart rates as they moved between exercise stations. Results indicated that self-reports of flowlike states increased from early to late in the exercise sessions, but that the magnitude of change was greater for participants high in hypnotic susceptibility than for those low in hypnotic susceptibility. Prior experience was also significantly related to flow ratings, with participants having more than 6 months of prior experience providing higher ratings than those with less than 6 months of prior experience. No significant relationship was observed between exercise heart rate and self-reports of flow. The findings are discussed in relation to the model of flow proposed by Kimiecik and Stein (1992).

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Pete Lindsay, Ian Maynard, and Owen Thomas

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.