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Sports Psychology Tips: Stress Management For Athletes

Posted by: Dr. Granat on November 2, 2014

Top athletes often experience stress related to the quality of their performance. The model described in this relief can be helpful in lowering stress and in improving performance.

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., Psychotherapist, Author and Founder of has developed a useful approach for counseling athletes and for helping them to reach their potential in their chosen sport.
“Many athletes can get a great deal of help in just one session,” says 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, How To Break A Hitting Slump, How To Lower Your Golf Score With Sport Psychology and Zone Tennis.
His new method combines hypnosis, dream therapy, visualization and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Everything Worthwhile Begins With A Dream

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.”
“Elite athletes tend to be visualizers and dreamers so it makes sense to tap into their hopes, dreams and fantasies where there sport is concerned to help them to reach their potential,” notes Granat who has appeared in many major media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Good Morning America.
“Moreover, starting a counseling session with the exploration of a positive dream gets the person thinking a positive manner and addresses solutions to problems 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.
Sometimes, we focus on short term goals. In other cases, we concentrate on long term desires, “says Dr. Granat.

Top athletes tend to be visualizers, so this exercise is quite easy for them to engage in.

“Recently, one basketball player told me about how dreamed of playing for Duke.
A gymnast, spoke about wanting to represent her country in The Olympics.
A baseball relief pitcher fantasized about coming in the bottom of the ninth inning to close out a game at Yankee Stadium.
A figure skater knew exactly what she would wear on the ice at a national championship.
A weekend warrior told me how proud he would be to win the club championship at his course.
A highly ranked tennis player who loved playing on grass had imagined himself winning Wimbledon many times.
A young golf pro told me thought about sinking a ten foot putt at The Masters thousands of times.”

The Magic Square

Next, 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.

This is a key question. Shortly after asking this question, I introduce the magic square diagram.
This visual includes the following words in each of the corners. Dreams, Thoughts, Feelings, Behaviors. Most people move from their dreams to their thoughts and then to their behaviors. The word “Dreams” is placed in the upper left hand corner.
Most people move from their dreams to their thoughts and then to their behaviors and feelings. Although some go directly from their dreams to their behaviors or their feelings.
Recently, a top golfer who I counselled, saw that he needed to change his 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.
A gymnast who was injured realized that she needed some time off.
A baseball pitcher who could not throw strikes had to change his warm ups, develop another pitch and change his thoughts on the mound to find the plate more consistently.
A gymnast who won a national championship had to get her coach to talk to her in a different manner.
A wrestler needed to use one of my self-hypnosis programs to manage the anxiety and the down time between matches.
A pro bowler who I coached had to learn how to manage anger and frustration in a more productive and positive manner.

Helpful For Athletes, Parents Of Athletes And Coaches

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.

Discovering Why An
Athlete Is Choking, Stuck Or Frustrated

Cognitive Behavioral Dream Therapy and the “Magic Square” frequently help the client to ease into the next important question which is why they might be struggling and barriers do they need to get past to take their game to that next level.

Good Results With Athletes
And Non Athletes

“I have used this method with many athletes and thus far they have responded quite well as have their parents and their coaches.

I have also used a similar approach with patients who come to me for marriage counseling and for people suffering with anxiety and depression.

While one therapeutic approach is not right for every person and for every presenting problem, starting with their dreams and moving on to the thoughts, feelings and behaviors they need to change seems to help many people to get their lives moving in a more positive direction.

Contact Dr. Granat

For more tips, programs, books, CD’s and DVD’s, visit

Dr. Granat is available for consultations, seminars and media interviews. He can be reached at or at 888-580-9663.

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