Pardon me while this author takes a little time to muse about his life-long love, baseball. From the Mighty Mites at age eight and through high school, baseball was my sport. This love is the reason I was thrilled to learn, as I first returned to the world of hypnotherapy, that many of the all-time greats of the sport have used hypnosis-based therapy to improve their games.
A brief roll-call of the stars who have used hypnotherapy makes my point: Rod Carew, Rick Gibson, Nolan Ryan, Steve Stone, Bill Buckner, Don Sutton, Mark McGuire, Maury Wills, Jim Eisenreich, Damion Easley, and John Smoltz. The Chicago White Sox in 1983 actually hired a team hypnotist and promptly made the play-offs. Just from this short list of players, we can discern a number of facts: The best players in the sport used hypnotherapy. Every player on the field can benefit from hypnotherapy, both the hitters and the pitchers. The effectiveness of hypnotherapy in baseball has been long recorded, going back at least to the 1960s.
Hypnotherapy is safe for all ages. Summit Hypnosis and Wellness records an ingenious Little League player who did his own research. Working with a hypnotherapist, he determined that his on-base percentage increased by 15.5% after using hypnosis.
Baseball players have used hypnotherapy in a variety of different ways. Rod Carew, one of the most graceful players and best hitters of all times, first used hypnotherapy to overcome persistent pain after recovering from an injury. Jim Eisnreick had a problem with nervousness. John Smoltz, as a young pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, got off to an awful start early in his career in 1991. He sought the help of a hypnotherapist, turned his season around, and went on to a Hall of Fame career.
Each baseball player is going to have distinct challenges, and the hypnotherapy plans will vary based upon individual needs and goals. However, there are several objectives common to all baseball players.
My high school coach, a former St. Louis Cardinal, always told us that baseball was a “loosey-goosey” game. We all knew that meant that being relaxed was essential in playing baseball. Hypnotherapy is incredibly beneficial for players needing to relax and stay calm. But can being relaxed hurt a player when cat-like reactions are necessary? No. Being tense actually slows reactions. As we have learned throughout this text, relying primarily on our thinking, conscious mind slows us down. Focusing consciously on an objective actually brings the reverse consequences. The goal for every ball player is to prepare and rely on the Middle Mind, the subconscious, to take over and handle those immediate responses.
All athletes talk about being “in the zone,” that mental state of highest performance. Such a state of mind is critical in baseball. Getting “in the zone” before taking the mound or stepping into the batter’s box and then staying there is critical to optimal performance. In “the zone,” a player experiences a high level of confidence combined with tremendous focus, but it is not a focus that is forced. It must be a focus occurring naturally, originating in the Middle Mind. Optimizing “the zone” is a unique accomplishment offered by hypnotherapy. A ball player will become adept at entering “the zone,” a place where quick reactions and anticipation exist and where the crowd and other distractions are totally ignored.
Finally, a baseball player using hypnotherapy will have an enduring positive attitude. This confident attitude will persist through tedious practices, long road trips, and extra-inning games.
Although the focus of this article has been baseball, many, if not all, of the components apply to its sibling sport, softball, and to its cousin, cricket. (England’s cricket captain, Mike Brearley made use of a sport hypnotherapist.) You can read a brief review of other sports for which hypnosis combined with therapy works well in the next section.