Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., Psychotherapist, Author and Founder of StayInTheZone.com has developed a useful approach for counseling athletes and for helping them to reach their potential in their chosen sport.
According to Granat, the author of numerous books and self-help programs including How To Get Into The Zone With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, Bedtime Stories For Young Athletes and Zone Tennis among others, this method combines hypnosis, dream therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
For many people, motivation and goals begin with a daydream, night dream of positive fantasy. As one writer once said, “Everything really worthwhile begins with a dream.”
Moreover, starting a counseling session with the exploration of a positive dream gets the athlete thinking a positive manner immediately.
“Consequently, the first thing I do is place the athlete in a light hypnotic trance and he or she is asked to describe in detail their dream for themselves where their sport is concerned,” says Granat.
Top athletes tend to be visualizers, so this exercise is quite easy for them to engage in.
Second, after articulating his or her dream, the athlete is shown a diagram and asked what thoughts, feelings or behaviors do they need to change, adjust, modify or improve to increase the likelihood of their dream becoming a reality.
The diagram, which I call the magic square includes the following words in each of the corners. Dreams, Thoughts, Feelings, Behaviors.
The word “Dreams” is placed in the upper left hand corner.
Recently, a top golfer who I counseled, saw that he needed to change is training regime and to manage the ups and downs of the golf game more gracefully and with more resilience in order to make in on the pro tour.
Similarly, a young basketball player saw that he must overcome his fear of missing shots in order to achieve his dream of playing Division I Baseball. “I have to be ready to take risks during the game. I can not worry about disappointing my coaches, teammates or parents.”
A top tennis player quickly realized that she had to change her self-talk in between serves in order to win more matches.
The “Magic Square” helped to clarify this needed shift for her.
This approach is also useful in getting athletes, parents and coaches onto the same page where their physical and mental training are concerned.
Sometimes, I have them all complete the square on their own and then we compare them in a group session.