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Mind Games

26 April 2017

Regular golfers will already be familiar with the well-worn adage that 90 per cent of the sport is in the mind.

That percentage, in fact, may well be a conservative estimate – and the importance of mental approach in sporting accomplishments is by no means confined to golf.

Hypnosis expert Elliott Wald, who has been a consultant at Centennial Medical Care for almost two years, says psychological issues can significantly increase – or inhibit – success in a wide range of sports, as well as life in general.

An ex-bodybuilder and power lifter, Elliott has used hypnotherapy to help a number of footballers, boxers and tennis players over the last two decades – all without any need to swing watches or send his subjects into a trance.

“If you bring a Rolex, I’m sure I can utilise that! But the idea of swinging watches is really for stage shows. What I am is a clinical practitioner,” Elliott explains.

“It’s about being relaxed and opening up the mind through a form of relaxation, where I can access your subconscious mind. What you use in your daily life is the conscious mind and that’s a very small capacity.

“Every decision you make, good or bad, everything you like or dislike, those things you avoid or are drawn towards – all come from your unconscious process, which comes from your past experiences, and you base your future decisions on those.

“For sport I use something called an anchor – that is connecting a physical movement such as pressing your thumb and finger together with a psychological and emotional thought.

“For example, somebody who’s had a few poor games really wants to feel confidence. So I would bring into their mind, using hypnosis, three of their best performances in the past, and run that like a movie, but I connect it with a physical movement.

“Therefore, every time they press their thumb and finger together, they will feel that confidence and competence level in their ability to perform. That’s a technique I can use for a variety of sports or performance enhancement in other areas of life.”

Elliott’s interest in psychology developed after an injury in 1996 put paid to his competitive sporting career and he studied hypnotherapy at Birkbeck College, University of London, as well as training alongside renowned hypnotist Paul McKenna.

Around that time, the use of hypnotherapy in sport became more commonplace, with Irish boxer Steve Collins famously undergoing hypnosis before defeating world champion Chris Eubank, while golfer Tiger Woods became another advocate of similar techniques.

Currently, Elliott works with a Premier League football club – which he is unable to specify for confidentiality reasons – and he has found their players increasingly receptive to his ideas.

“A lot more people are open to using hypnosis for performance enhancement, or to overcome phobias and elements of their personal life, and it’s become more mainstream, 100 per cent,” he observes.

“I work with individual players – the components within the team, as opposed to the team as a whole. I had a striker come and see me, who was in a slump – he had not been performing at his best for the last four matches.

“Every time he went onto the pitch, he kept thinking about how he hadn’t performed and focusing on the negatives. So I used a technique to get him to visualise the goal twice the size that it actually was, that raised his confidence level and belief system so that he was unable to not score the goal. “He went into the next match and scored three goals and that was purely about dealing with his belief. It’s got to be done in the blink of an eye so, when the ball’s passed to him, he’s immediately got that belief that it’s impossible for him to miss.

“I see a lot of golfers, from the person who just goes out to play for fun right through to PGA level. Some of them come to me when they have the yips, or have nervousness when they get on the green.

“With one golfer, every time he was on the green, I got him to do up his shoelaces. The process of doing up his laces set up a trigger in his head of being able to perform at optimum capacity.”

However, many of Elliott’s clients are involved with sports at a far lower level – and sometimes not connected with sports at all.

His work in the field of performance enhancement can relate to optimising business situations, for instance, while people often seek his assistance in overcoming deep-rooted phobias through hypnosis.

“I worked with a lady who had a fear of spherical objects – her phobia was that anything round was a great threat to her and she hadn’t left the house in five years,” Elliott recalls.

“When I went to visit her, all the screws were covered in masking tape, her plates and cups were square and she didn’t have any spoons. There were no clocks, the watch she wore on her wrist was an oblong watch – there was nothing round in the house.

“I had to help her change her mindset to overcome that. I worked with someone else who had a fear of mud – she’d developed this from being on a horse, tripping in the stirrup and getting dragged around the paddock for a few seconds.

“So my interest in performance enhancement has taken me into many areas and I enjoy the work I do at Centennial Medical Care – the staff are very friendly, it’s a great environment and a very professional unit.”

To find out more about Elliott’s work, visit www.hypnosis-expert.com