Here is a copy of an article which I wrote for a British Journal called The Annual Review Of Golf Coaching.
Quite a few famous coaches and psychologists appear in this publication.
Sport Psychology, Hypnosis and Golf:
StayInTheZone.com, 1060 Main St., Suite 307,
River Edge, NJ 07661, USA
Simon Jenkins has written a thorough and comprehensive review on the use of
hypnosis with golfers outlining many of the historical, ethical and clinical issues. He
also does a fine job of addressing some of the fears and misconceptions associated
with hypnosis and self-hypnosis.
I would like to add a few additional comments about the use of hypnosis with
golfers. Specifically, I would like to outline a few case examples as a way of showing
how hypnosis is employed clinically and how it can be used to help golfers to perform
well during competition. I have counseled thousands of golfers and there are many
cases I could present in this article. I am selecting just a handful which illustrate how
hypnosis and hypnotic techniques are incorporated into the counseling process and
the coaching relationship.
I believe it is important to understand that effective hypnosis and hypnotherapy do
not take place in a vacuum. That is, when it is used wisely and intelligently, it is
frequently combined with other aspects of psychotherapy and the counseling process.
ANXIETY AND SIBLING RIVALRY
I utilize hypnosis with golfers and with athletes from virtually every sport imaginable.
Hypnosis can be used to build confidence, manage stress, improve focus, clarify
goals, better relationships, obtain insight, improve motivation, and manage pain.
These are very important matters for the golfer-athlete. For example, recently a
golfer who came to see me, because he found himself becoming quite tense when he
Some therapists or hypnotists might have simple taught this man a self-hypnotic
technique which could promote increased relaxation. While there is nothing wrong
with this idea, I believe it is important to learn as much as possible about the etiology
of a person’s anxiety. While taking a history from this man, he explained to me that
he is most tense when he competes against his regular playing partner who happens
to be his older brother. We discussed the nature and history of their competitiveness
and their sibling rivalry. Apparently, my client felt that he could never beat his “big
brother” at golf or for that matter at anything. I explained how hypnosis might be
helpful to this man. He agreed to try a hypnotic exercise. I helped him into a
comfortable trance and suggested that imagine that he was the older brother. He
enjoyed being in this powerful role very much. He loved the hypnotic experience very
much and he went on to beat his brother by five strokes the next time they played with
one another. He called me on Monday morning to share the big news about his victory
HYPNOSIS IN CONJUNCTION WITH GESTALT THERAPY
Hypnosis can also be easily integrated with supportive counseling, insight oriented
therapy, behavioral therapy, gestalt therapy, psychoanalysis, dream work,
psychodrama and cognitive-behavioral therapy. The literature contains many
examples and illustrations of how hypnosis is used by therapists with a wide range of
I frequently develop hypnotic trances in which golfers can mentally recreate good
rounds and bad rounds in my office. I use hypnosis to help them to become deeply
aware of what playing well feels like and what playing poorly feels like for them. I
sometimes combine this hypnotic experience with a technique from Gestalt therapy
and psychodrama known as the “double chair.” This two-chair method is a way of
helping people to get in touch with two sides of themselves. For example, it can help
a golfer to learn about his psychological strengths and his weaknesses.
It can also be used to help a person resolve conflicts or ambivalent feelings. For
instance, it could be helpful in treating a golfer who wants to be successful, but has
some underlying fear of being successful. While in a hypnotic trance, I frequently
have golfers move from the positive chair to the negative chair. Again, this helps the
athlete to learn more about what drives each kind of performance on the course.
Frequently, this method helps the client to learn an important but subtle difference
between feeling good and performing well and feeling poorly and performing poorly.
As one golfer noted after trying the double-chair exercise:
smile helps me to feel more comfortable and play better. Prior to this hypnosis, I
mistakenly believed that I had to be serious to be in control and play my best. I will
bring a little levity with me the next time I compete.”
“I never realized that a
USING HYPNOSIS WITH THE GOLFER’S SUPPORT
In addition to working with the golfer by himself or herself, I frequently include
parents, coaches, agents, caddies, managers, spouses and significant others in the
process. They are the athlete’s support system. And sometimes, I lead this support
system through a group exercise which is a combination of hypnosis, and guided
imagery. This can be quite powerful since it can help everyone to discover interesting
ideas and it can help all the key people to get on the same page as the golfer.
In some instances, I have hypnotized both the golfer and his or her caddie in order
to prepare them for an upcoming event. Recently, after a placing a golfer and his
caddie into a trance, the caddie and the golfer told me in great detail a lot about their
goals, and their dreams and how they felt their lives might change if they were
successful in their sport. This conversation gave us all some insight into what was
192 Annual Review of Golf Coaching 2009
motivating this duo.
In my view, when a caddie and golfer are functioning as a team, they enter a rather
special shared mental space. Some therapists would say they move into a shared
trance state or a joint hypnotic state. Knowing how to get into this kind of state of
mind can help the duo to improve the synergy between them and to learn how to
perform to their full potential more often.
While some golfers can benefit from being hypnotized or learning self-hypnosis,
many golfers will find it exceedingly helpful to work with a therapist who can, when
necessary, integrate hypnosis into the counseling and coaching process.
Gurus. He is the author of
: Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist and is the Founder ofGolf Digest named him one of America’s Top Ten MentalHow to Lower Your Golf Score with Sport Psychology and.