Hypnotherapy has been used by famous athletes to improve their sports performance. This seems to be backed up by a new Australian study, whose results suggest that the faster speed achieved by athletes when they take performance-enhancing drugs is in their mind.

The research compared athletes on a placebo with those given a growth hormone drug. Those who had taken the dummy pills ran faster, jumped higher and managed to lift heavier weights than those who were on the hormones. The results suggest what hypnotherapists say is true – “ if you think that you will perform better, then you will.

Many professional athletes have used creative visualisation to boost their performance for years and one of the methods that hypnotherapists use is visualisation. However, visualisation in hypnosis is much stronger, because the person is completely relaxed and focused on the visualisation – so they concentrate harder and the memory is stronger.  Dr Aimee Kimball, the director of mental training in sports medicine from the University of Pittsburgh, said:

“If you visualise being stronger, running faster or winning, you are priming your nervous system to do just that.  Studies have found that the method can enhance physical performance significantly, sometimes by 20 per cent or more”.