Hypnosis For Performance In Air Rifle Shooting Competition

I work with many people to help them with aspects of sports psychology and improving their performance. It's always a joy to work with people who have such passion, drive and motivation to get better at what they do.

Frustratingly, my own running has had to take a back seat recently with a couple of persistent minor niggles keeping me away from it. Thankfully high intensity bootcamp training has continued, albeit with modifications to avoid running and jumping, or anything else that could over stress my ankle or achillies right now.

To try and counter these niggles and make me more injury-proof in future, I've started some personal training sessions to go alongside my bootcamps. I always find it amazing how you can feel relatively fit and strong doing certain familiar exercises, only to take on something new and feel like a complete novice. After a session today I don't think my body knows what has hit it! The muscle soreness tomorrow may be off the chart... Yet it's all an opportunity to learn, adapt, get fitter and stronger, and come back into running all the better for having gone through this shock to the system.

Recently I've been working with an air rifle shooter to help them to enhance their performance and boost their confidence and self-belief ready for competition. And as part of my research and session preparation, I came acress a research paper that specifically looked into the use of hypnosis on performance in air rifle shooting competitions. 

Hypnosis air rifle shooting competition

 

Hypnosis For Enhanced Sports Performance

Research has shown that hypnosis can be a very effeccive tool for helping you to enhance and improve your sports performance.  

'Hypnosis has been shown to be effective for improving performance in a variety of sports, with the strongest support for enhancement of basketball, golf, soccer and badminton skills.' There is also evidence that hypnosis may be useful for enhancing performance in cricket and weight-lifting, as well as precision sports like archery and throwing accuracy (Milling & Randazzo, 2016).

There's more on this research here: Hypnosis For Sports Performance - Research and Evidence and I've  also covered many other aspects of hypnosis for sports performance throughout my blog pages.

Certainly the many sports people I've worked with have found that their hypnotherapy sessions help them with issue relating to the sport they love so much, whether that's football, boxing, triathlon, running, body building or some other sporting discipline.

If we begin to look specifically towards precision sports, there is evidence to support hypnosis in archery performance (Robazza & Bortoli, 1995) and in improving throwing accuracy (Jalene & Wulf, 2014). Benefits from hypnosis have also been demonstrated in basketball shooting and golf accuracy.

In addition to specific sports, hypnotherapy can help with more generic aspects of sports performance such as emotional regulation, reducing excessive anxiety or nervousness, increasing confidence and strengthening your self belief in your sporting ability. There are strategies and techniques that can help with unhelpful thinking (or overthinking), unwanted emotions, unhelpful habits or any other psychological aspect that can interfere with you achieving your best performance.

 

Hypnosis For Performance in Air Rifle Shooting Competitions

And so moving on specifically to hypnosis for air rifle shooting performance: Mattle, Birrer & Elfering, 2020 (Feasibility of hypnosis on performance in air rifle shooting competition) investigated the effect of a single hypnosis intervention on shooting performance in a 10-meter air rifle competition. Eight shooting athletes from the Swiss national team participated in the experiment.

As with all sports, psychological factors can impact upon shooting performance. If levels of anxiety are too high they can lead to distraction, impaired concentration, overthinking and physical tension that adversely affects shooting performance. Your thoughts and feelings can interfere with your positioning and movement. 

In the research, suggestions were given to the shooters to enhance their sport performance. Participants were asked to mentally go through an optimal shooting performance by focusing on the individual aspects needed to achieve an optimal performance.

The data was collected at the Shooting Masters, which is a series of competitions in which the best shooters from Switzerland compete against each other. For three athletes, the hypnosis intervention had a small positive effect on their performance, six subjects had small improvements, and two subjects had a performance decrease (although one of these had made technical changes in shooting technique which may have impacted upon their performance).

Whilst some of the increases in performance may seem small, it should be remembered that the participants were amongst the best shooters in Switzerland. For all elite athletes, the margins for improvement become small because of how competent they already are, however, in competition where fine margins often decide medals, these shooting performance increases become very meaningful. 

It may be that those with more scope for shooting performance increases achieve greater effects upon their results, and it may also be possible that a series of hypnosis sessions may also have an increased beneficial impact, rather than the single intervention used here.

In their subjective evaluation, all eight shooters perceived the intervention as being helpful, and most of them believed that the intervention had a positive effect on their shooting performance. The participants described the hypnosis intervention as putting them in a more optimal state for the shooting competition, including enhanced calmness, concentration, and self-confidence. 

When in competition, anything that supports calmness, focus, concentration and confidence is going to be valuable. Pressure to compete well against your fellow athletes can lead to distraction, dips in mood, overthinking, focusing too much on what others are doing and tension, all of which can impair shooting performance. 

Drawing upon the research into hypnosis for sports performance, alongside hypnosis for anxiety and confidence, can help you to strengthen your ability to be in an optimal state for performance in shooting competitions. This research suggest that hypnosis may be a beneficial tool, potentially alongside other sports psychology interventions, to help you improve your shooting performance and to effectively manage your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.  

I'm certainly enjoying helping my current shooting client to get in their optimal zone for successful performance in their forthcoming competition. We are drawing upon previous best performances, emotional regulation, enhanced mental focus, robust confidence and enhanced belief in their own ability to achieve their competition goals. I'm pretty excited at just how fantastically they are going to do when they pick up their rifle on the day of the competition. 

To your shooting success,

Dan Regan

Face-to-face hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

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References:

Jalene, S. and Wulf, G., 2014. Brief hypnotic intervention increases throwing accuracy. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching9(1), pp.199-206.

Mattle, S., Birrer, D. and Elfering, A., 2020. Feasibility of hypnosis on performance in air rifle shooting competition. International journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis68(4), pp.521-529.

Milling, L.S. and Randazzo, E.S., 2016. Enhancing sports performance with hypnosis: An ode for Tiger Woods. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice3(1), p.45.

Robazza, C. and Bortoli, L., 1995. A case study of improved performance in archery using hypnosis. Perceptual and motor skills81(3_suppl), pp.1364-1366.