Sports Hypnosis & Sports Performance Anxiety

Sports Hypnosis is a Treatment for Performance Anxiety in Athletes

Athletes who experience heightened, sometimes debilitating sports performance anxiety often find that sports hypnosis (when performed by a skilled medical hypotherapist like Dr. Lazarus) helps them excel at their sport, while enabling them to get out of their head and into the game.

No matter what the sport—tennis, golf, hockey, soccer, wrestling, football, swimming, fencing, or horseback riding—I can teach athletes to teach themselves how to control their stress, stay focused, and play even more confidently.

“Finding the Zone”

Don’t get me wrong: A certain level of stress can promote excellence and can push a person to try harder, to focus better, and to have more fun. But when people push past their “good stress” threshold, it can lead to second-guessing, misjudgments, and poor performance. To play well, athletes need to play with a certain amount of intensity. By that, I mean they need to be in their “zone of optimal performance.”

Need examples? Players make bad shots, or bad plays, and can’t get those mishaps out of their minds. They practice-practice-practice, and still cannot “get it right.” These athletes lose focus, get mad at themselves, and often give up.

Zone of Optimal Performance

You’ve heard about the “zone” or being in the “zone.” Now, Jeff Lazarus, MD, explains a technique that will show you how to remain even more focused while participating in your chosen sport. It’s called the “Zone of Optimal Performance”.

Visualization – Nike Coaches Conference

Sports performance is ideal for clinical hypnosis, or sports hypnosis. This video shows highlights from the talk given by Jeffrey Lazarus MD at the Nike Coaches Conference on how visualization has been demonstrated to impact the performance of athletes when it matters most.

“I am a firm believer in positive visualization. Before every training or game with the national soccer team, I spent moments visualizing myself in scenarios, with each resulting in positive outcomes.

Then when those “real” moments on the field happened, I was prepared and calm to attack the challenge at hand, knowing I had seen it before and knew how I could be successful. As athletes, we all train our bodies to be physically ready, but it is the individuals/teams that spend time on the psychology of sport who are the most prepared to challenge themselves on the next level.”

– Brandi Chastain

Former member of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team and winner of two Women’s World Cup championships, two Olympic gold medals, and an Olympic silver medal.

Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Joe DiMaggio are all well-known for their use of self-hypnosis.

An interesting story about Joe DiMaggio, one of the greatest baseball hitters of all time, is that he used to imagine the baseball being a beach volleyball. Of course, it’s easy to miss a little ball coming at you at 100 miles per hour. But it’s virtually impossible to miss hitting a beach ball!

Dr. Lazarus also incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques when he sees patients with any type of anxiety. CBT has been shown to be extremely effective for anxiety of all sorts, and Dr. Lazarus has found that by using a combination of medical hypnosis and CBT, his athletes not only learn some extremely powerful tools, but they also have significant improvement after only 1 to 3 visits.

More Information on Sports Hypnosis

Download “Sports Performance Enhancement: Strategies For Managing Sports Performance Anxiety” (PDF)

Dr. Lazarus met baseball legend Nomar Garciaparra at a fund-raising event hosted by Brandi Chastain and had an opportunity to ask him a few questions:

Download Advice for Young Athletes from Nomar Garciaparra (PDF)

Keep scrolling to watch Dr. Lazarus’ Interview with Olympic Silver Medalist
Sara Isaković, 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist in the 200m Freestyle, talks with Dr. Lazarus about her use of visualization and imagery to help her succeed in swimming.


GOAL SETTING: “Dare to dream big.”

VISUALIZATION: “Picture yourself being successful, believe in yourself.”