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Analysis of the Impact of Hypnosis on an Athlete (cricket)

This study analyzed the effect of hypnosis on the capabilities of a cricket leg-spin bowler. The popular sport of cricket requires skill and stamina.  Like any sport, a player must have the physicality to play and confidence in his ability to play competitively. The subject in this study was a male bowler who played with a semi-professional team. He had been playing for 14 of his 21 years. A leg-spin bowler tries to spin the ball from right to left using wrist movement. Subject reported disappointing pre-season training results and poor performance during competition. He claimed to have diminished skill and imagined himself failing to deliver the ball. Negative self-talk had overwhelmed him, resulting in tension before a game.

Treatment plan included hypnosis, additional coaching and self-modeling. That is a method that has the subject watch a video of himself, on a day when he played exceptional cricket. Subject watched it before each game and followed it with self-hypnosis. Sports psychologists can use hypnosis to induce long-term changes in the athlete’s self-efficacy by using verbal persuasion during the trance state (Bandura, 1997; Zinsser, Bunker, & Williams, 2001). Imagery during a trance can have a positive effect if it were the right type (Martin, Moritz, & Hall, 1999).

The study was designed as single-subject with baseline data points determined before each of 8 cricket matches. The baseline information is later compared to post-intervention data points intended to assess improvement. The researcher collected a third set of post-intervention data seven months after the end of the research project and continuing into the next 8 games of a new season. Data points refer to the time or place where information was gathered. The number and placement of data points varies from one study to another.  The same means of collecting data is used at each point. The following were used in this study: The Bowling Self-Efficacy Questionnaire (Treasure, Monson, & Lox, 1996), The Trait Self-Confidence Inventory (Vealey, 1986), The Hypnotic Depth Scale (Sapp, & Evanhow, 1998). Final evaluation used game statistics and social validation data (Hanton, & Jones, 1999; Kazdin, 1982) that measured the subject’s own impression of the treatment and his feelings about it.

Statistics showed a significant increase between pre-intervention and post-intervention. Scores fluctuated from 63 to a high of 91 with the mean at 75; the second series of 8 showed the mean elevated to 85 with some fluctuation and the follow-up indicated minimal fluctuation in level (mean of 87), except for the first game (85)and last game (89). Therefore, a significant increase from pre to post-intervention indicates that hypnosis was a successful tool for improving self- efficacy in this instance. The increase at follow-up showed that improvement continued for a 7-month period without further treatment except in the implementation of the self-hypnosis taught.

Past research into the effectiveness of hypnotherapy for athletes is limited and therefore somewhat inconclusive. However, results of this study point to the probability of it being a valuable treatment option. It should be noted that the coach, who was also the researcher, was schooled in hypnosis. Future studies should use cross-study guidelines with a large, randomized group of subjects and a control group.


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