How To Use Imagery and Self-Hypnosis for Sports

Here's a step-by-step guide to using imagery and self-hypnosis

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Research shows that it may be possible to improve sports performance and even speed up healing by using specific mental skills and techniques, including imagery and self-hypnosis.

See article: Hypnosis and Imagery Might Help Sports Injuries.

What is Imagery?

Imagery, sometimes called guided imagery, visualization, mental rehearsal or self-hypnosis, refers to specific techniques often used by psychologists to help individuals visualize or mentally rehearse a desired event.

It involves using all of the senses to create an imagined experience that feels real. By using all your senses you create a very real experience of the desired outcome.

How to Use Imagery: A Step-by-Step Guide

The first time you try imagery, it's helpful to have a skilled facilitator or practitioner walk you through the process. This is referred to as guided imagery. You can also use CDs or tapes, or record your own script to use as your guide. After you are comfortable with the technique, it's easy to practice these techniques on your own.

  1. Sit in a comfortable place where you wont be interrupted.
  2. Relax your body and take several long, slow breaths.
  3. Close your eyes and create a vivid and convincing image. This image can be one you've previously experienced, or one you simply desire.
  4. If you become distracted or find you are thinking about something else, simply acknowledge it and let it go.
  5. Focus on your breathing if you lose the image.
  1. Maintain a positive attitude.
  2. Imagine the sights, sounds, tastes, feelings and even smells of the experience.
  3. Take note of as much detail of the scene as possible. What are you wearing, who is there, what are you hearing, and how do you feel?
  4. If your imagery session is not going the way you want it to, simply open your eyes and start over with your breathing.
  1. Always end an imagery session with a positive image.

Imagery and Sports

Athletes have many opportunities to try sports hypnosis using the various imagery or self-hypnosis techniques. From injury recovery to improved sports performance, these techniques are showing promise as a standard part of an athlete's training program.

Guided Imagery and Self-Hypnosis Books and CDs

  • Self-Healing With Guided Imagery from Dr. Andrew Weil.
  • The Soul Of Healing Meditations from Deepak Chopra / Adam Plack.
  • CDs for Healing Meditations
  • Books on Meditation and Healing


Driediger, Molly ; Hall, Craig ; Callow, Nichola, Imagery use by injured athletes: a qualitative analysis. Journal of Sports Sciences, March, 2006

Evans, Lynne; Hare, Rebecca; and Mullen, Richard, Imagery Use During Rehabilitation from Injury, Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity, Vol. 1. 2006

Ievleva and Orlick, Mental Links to Enhanced Healing: An Exploratory Study, TSP, 5(1), March 1991.