Sports Hypnosis in Practice

Scripts, strategies and case examples

By: Joseph Tramontana, PhD


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Size: 156mm x 234mm

Pages : 200

ISBN : 9781845906795

Format: Paperback

Published: May 2011

This book offers new strategies and scripts for hypnotherapists, sports counsellors and sports psychologists working with athletes to help them achieve their peak performance. A major focus of the book is that the therapist does not necessarily need to be familiar with the sport or activity to serve as a ‘mental coach’ to the athlete. The athlete is instructed that the goal is not to improve the mechanics of their performance (that is left up to their coaches) but, rather, to help them to relax, concentrate and focus so that they fulfil their maximum potential. They learn not to let the mental side of their game trip up the physical side, but rather to enhance it.

Picture for author Joseph Tramontana, PhD

Joseph Tramontana, PhD

Joseph Tramontana, PhD is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and certified consultant in clinical hypnosis. Dr. Tramontana is president of the Louisiana Psychological Association and of the New Orleans Society for Clinical Hypnosis. He is also a member of the Association of Applied Sports Psychologists.


  1. This book lives up to its title absolutely. The author's background as a clinical psychologist is important because of his application of sound theoretical perspectives into his work as a therapist first and a sports psychologist second.

    The introduction gives an accurate and sound (historical and developmental) rationale for the application of hypnosis in order to help athletes enhance their performance. Joseph Tramontana clearly demonstrates his vast experience in helping with athletes from more than 15 sports. The very many case studies illustrate the application of hypnotic techniques such as hypnotic suggestibility tests, muscle testing, induction, deepening, the practice effect, alert and open eye hypnosis and self hypnosis. The final chapters, "Recovering from Injury and Returning to Training and Competition" and "Substance Abuse and Other Addictive Behaviours" make a valuable contribution to support the efficacy of hypnosis as an adjunct to therapy not generally covered in other texts. The book closes with insightful conclusions, appendices including a valuable list of affirmations, recommended books, movies and references.
  2. The integration of hypnotic sports psychology for the development of sports performance is in ever increasing demand. This highly readable book outlines some interesting strategies, with accompanying scripts and case studies (so often missing in books). Some eminent practitioners have been cited within the book and the reference list is extensive. I recommend it to professionals with an interest in this area.
  3. Over the years, the applications and usefulness of hypnosis has been demonstrated and worked out, mainly in the field of psychopathology and medical problems. The field of -˜sports hypnosis' remained less studied, unknown, under developed. The work to inform and motivate people in the field of sports, culminated in this book, filling a gap. As reader you learn how and where hypnosis can be integrated in working with athletes, practicing different sports. Like the author, maybe you as a therapist can discover how working with athletes can be “fun and an exciting sub-area of general psychological practice” and that “progress, gains and successes are often quick, dramatic, and measurable”. Working with athletes turns out to be very rewarding as “they are highly motivated to improve and used to repetition in practicing their sport, so usually accepting the need to practice self-hypnosis.”(p.7)

    Psychotherapists and sports psychologists who are familiar with hypnosis easily can get ideas from this book to creatively working with athletes in their own practice. As the author states “working with athletes can bring a healthy balance for psychotherapists, not only working with patients suffering from pathology, but also to see how they can help, assist sportsman to enhance performances. “

    Work with athletes as presented here, starts in a very structured way: motivational techniques to discover the impact of their mindset, let them experience different induction and deepening techniques, and imagery preparing the further work. The techniques are described in detail, with full scripts as one would expect in a basic textbook for hypnosis. 

    I particularly like the wood scene where the reader gets a first idea of what creativity and metaphorical work can do. The athlete is invited to experience by imagery his reflection as a younger one, his path through life with setbacks, minor frustrations, blockages he can encounter and imagery or projective to methods to uncovering obstacles. The metaphor stimulates the athlete to take matters in his own hands, and find his way in life, free himself from obstacles.  Another uncovering method is illustrated with a clinical example of a girl suffering from low self-esteem. She comes up with a memory of her mother shouting -˜shame on you', and it's surprising how fast the issue can be resolved: an inviting and motivating example for newcomers to work with hypnosis. 

    Other specific techniques useful in different sports are described in detail: the -˜World Class Visualizer' helps not only to see things with your own eyes, but from the expert's perspective, indirectly being helpful in finding advice and answers. You find examples of this in working with golfers, sprinters, equestrians and tennis players. 

    The “Space Travel Mediation” invites the athlete to take a fantasy trip into the outer space to meet an all-wise being -” getting information from the clients own subconscious mind through their conscious mind. 

    The “Time Continuum-future success” technique invites the client to imagine a trip into the clouds, from where to review past-present and future and projecting future success. 

    After the overview of hypnotic approaches chapters are dedicated to different sports: from golfers to field athletes, gymnastics and equestrians, football, tennis, volleyball, cycling and more.

    A special chapter focuses on recovery from injury and returning to training and competition. 

    The book is written in a nice conversational style, with plenty of references telling where the author found his ideas. He is not pretending that he -˜invented the wheel' but integrates methods from the clinical area of working in helping athletes to enhance performances. He adopts a traditional, structured hypnotic approach enriched with Ericksonian principles and methods, like language patterns, embedded suggestions, creating a yes-set, indirect work by telling stories of success by others. 

    Some scripts or approaches are repeated several times: you find them in the general approach and also in the case examples. Is it boring or can it be considered as learning by repeating, in a way that the therapist gets the content and the scripts in his own mind to easily adopt it in his clinical work. 
    The author states that you don't need to know all the details of a particular sport or skills to generate a successful outcome in helping athletes -” often an interview with the athlete and / or coach gives information about what needs to be improved or conveyed in hypnosis. 

    In working with athletes or other people who need to perform it's an advantage and sometimes a necessity of having clinical insight to detect anxiety disorders, previous (traumatic) experiences, educational issues or imprints which might interfere with developing one's full potential. Experience as a clinical psychologist, like the author has is very helpful.

    I appreciate the efforts and active approach he did to open up the field, making contact with coaches and give them information, offering help to the athletes, often for free. 

    The book reflects the experiences of years of practice of the author in this area and his efforts to get more professional people interested in the field. His enthusiasm works motivational. The book is recommended reading for therapists who are interested in applying hypnosis in performance enhancement in general, test anxiety and sports. 

    In my opinion the last parts of the book deserves special attention: you find an appendix with proverbs related to performance as “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor” and “When you lose, don't lose the lesson” and many other citations from anonymous people. Other proverbs mentioned come from famous people as Einstein's “In the middle of a difficulty lies opportunity.” These are useful ideas to offer as stuff for reflection, to sustain motivation, to give support in dealing with setbacks or frustration. A list of dvd's and movies related to sports is a valuable tool for experiential or indirect learning or learning from models by identification with their overcoming adversity and finding ways to success.
  4. For anyone who is interested in sports and hypnosis, this is a good place to start. Chapter 1 is a must read. It covers various inductions, relaxation and deepening processes. The author then touches on cognitive behavioural approaches and reframing. He recommends reading the book from the beginning to the end to gain the most benefit. There is a lot of information in the book and the affirmations are excellent. The references are also very helpful.
  5. The book covers a number of specific sports, with a natural focus on North American activities although not exclusively so. This should not put off practitioners from other areas as the reader will find a great deal of useful information which can be applied to other athletes. Tramontana draws on his years of experience in the field to provide significant breadth on subject knowledge, not only practical but theoretical too. He also uses actual case examples to illustrate “how to” and the process. I found his style informative and immensely readable. The book is a treasure trove for Sports therapists and useful for the more general hypnotherapist as there is a lot that can be learnt in this volume.
  6. “Do just once what others say you can't do and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.”-James R. Cook - from Sports Hypnosis, Appendix “Affirmations”

    Sports Hypnosis In Practice, by Dr. Joseph Tramontana, is a delightful, candid and enormously useful book for clinicians working with athletes. Licensed clinical psychologist, and one time runner, sprinter and coach, Dr. Tramontana applies his clinical skills and imagination to the mental side of sports. He weaves together hypnotherapy techniques, elements from the culture of competitive athletics, and specific directions for uncovering meaningful personal imagery, to help athletes improve their performance.

    Dr. Tramontana accomplishes this within a solid base of classical hypnotherapy technique and multi-level communications for unlocking potential. He writes in a direct, genuine, and first person style that lends itself to an appreciation to this interesting sub-specialty. He includes a variety of ideas in story-telling, interviews, affirmations, quotes, books, and movies that help with the process and enlivens the text for the reader.

    “What I especially enjoy about working with athletes, young or older,” Joe explained to the Times, “is their extremely high motivation to improve.” Joe's enjoyment of sports culture and his concern for the athletes emerge clearly in the text.

    “... I find it to be a fun and exciting sub-area of my general psychological practice,” he writes in the Introduction. “Typically athletes are not coming to see me because of psychological disturbance; rather they are seeking self-improvement in their sport.”

    “...The progress, gains, and successes are often quick, dramatic, and measurable,” he notes, a situation that makes this work a satisfying, upbeat area of clinical practice.

    In Sports Hypnosis Dr. Tramontana provides specific directions and scripts, showing the reader how to modify techniques and suggestions for particular sports or particular athletes.

    For instance, he explains the difference in the mental approach of a tennis player, who keeps moving, to that of a competitive golfer who has more than enough time to dwell on a mistake. The golfer “has more time to think between shots. If the previous shot was a bad one, this thinking can involve grappling with self-doubt, anxiety, fear of failure, and tension.”

    In another example, Joe presents a case with a young gymnast who had fallen and who finds it impossible to perform the same move unless her coach is near the bar. “Hypno-projection was then utilized to review performing the skills perfectly in the past (age regression),” Joe writes. “...and then seeing herself doing them perfectly in the future (future projection).” Next, he used scripts involving an approach for “rehearsing future performance.” And finally, “...the client was told to ask the coach to move a little further away each day and to practice these techniques at home.” In a short time the gymnast was back performing comfortably.

    The directions and scripts are enhanced by a set of interviews with coaches and athletes, including Brian Kinchen, former LSU football star and NFL tight end and long snapper. Also included is LSU women's tennis coach Tony Minnis, LSU's women's softball coach, Yvette Girouard, and LSU's equestrian club team coach, Leaf Boswell.

    Sports Hypnosis is complete with scientific links and references, successfully blending with the work of other sports psychology experts, information from researchers in human performance, and important techniques from other hypnotherapists.

    As a former competitive runner and sprinter, and also a coach for marathoners, Joe demonstrates his insightful knowledge about the challenges and demands that athletes encounter. He brings together his knowledge of normal personality, clinical insight, and his awareness of the emotional demands that arise in a variety of competitive endeavors, to show how the clinician can uncover the cognitive psychology of the athletes' beliefs.

    Sports Hypnosis will be directly and immediately useful for psychologists trained in clinical hypnosis who want to assist athletes, but it will also be valuable to those who want to better understand the specifics of indirect methods and how hypnotherapists engage the subconscious to help clients overcome personal obstacles.

    The design of the book begins with a crisp but complete “Introduction,” providing background and scientific context for applications. In Chapter 1, “Overview of Hypnotic Approaches with Athletes,” Joe outlines the techniques he uses for trace induction and deepening, imagery, and techniques for specific suggestions for athletes.

    For instance, he describes “The elevator,” “The practice effect and generalization effect,” and “Efficiency and effectiveness.” Also included is “Alert and open eye hypnosis,” a technique essential for athletes. In later chapters he describes techniques such as “World Class Visualizer,” and “Space Travel Meditation.”

    He clarifies how self-hypnosis is used for homework and explains the use of story-telling and “Inspirational stories.” He reviews how issues with low self-esteem, self-sabotage, or other emotional issues may need to be discovered in sections on “Uncovering” and “Reframing.”

    Chapters 2 through 9 address specific sports, beginning Chapter 2, “Golfers” followed by Chapter 3, “Track and Field Athletes: Sprinters, Distance Runners, and High Jumpers,” and Chapter 4, “Gymnastics and Cheerleaders.”

    In Chapter 5, “Equestrians: Show Jumping,” Joe reviews his work with a female equestrian who reported feedback of a “slow motion” effect following hypnotherapy, allowing her to feel as though she had extra time to mentally prepare. ”

    In “The US Big Three: Football, Baseball, and Basketball,” Chapter 6, Joe interviews Brian Kinchen, tight end for LSU, the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Raves, and Carolina Panthers. Kinchen became the deep snapper for the New England Patriots and snapped the winning field goal in the team's Super Bowl victory.

    Chapter 7, “Softball (Fast Pitch), Chapter 8 on “Tennis,” and Chapter 9 covering “Volleyball, Soccer, Olympic Shooting, Cycling, and Rugby,” completes the review of specific sports.

    Dr. Tramontana shifts gears in Chapter 10 to give a review of “Recovering from Injury and Returning to Training and Competition,” which includes hypnotic techniques to enhance recovery after surgery or injury.

    “My work with pain patients-I currently work one day per week in a pain management clinic and am referred to as their -˜pain psychologist'- dovetails nicely with working with athletes who have overuse or injury-related pain,” Joe noted.

    Chapter 11, “Substance Abuse and Other Addictive Behaviors,” builds on his clinical expertise of working with additive behaviors.

    Sections on “Affirmations” and on “Books and Movies,” are given in the Appendix, and complete this engaging, upbeat and very usable book.

    Dr. Joseph Tramontana is in private practice in Baton Rouge, and is also a Psychological Consultant to DDS. Additionally, he serves as the “Pain Psychologist” at Southern Pain & Anesthesia, in Metairie. He also sees clients monthly in Pass Christian, MS. He has served as Director of the North Mississippi Mental Health and Retardation Center. He belongs to the Southern Pain Society and the Mississippi Pain Society, the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (for whom he has served as a faculty member), and the Association of Applied Sports Psychologists. He is a member of APA, the Louisiana and Mississippi Psychological Associations. Dr. Tramontana was recently elected to the Louisiana Psychological Association Executive Council and is Chairperson of the Public Affairs Committee and of the Elections Committee.

    He is presenting a workshop in September (2011) at the annual meeting of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, an international organization, held this year in New Orleans.

    Sports Hypnosis is his second book. His first is Hypnotically Enhanced Treatment for Addictions, also published by Crown.
  7. Joseph Tramontana has written a fascinating book dealing with the use of hypnosis in sports psychology. In addition to a general overview of the topic, he also provides details of how to work with those involved in many different sports, so that each individual may learn how to use this mental approach to reach their true potential.

    Easy to read, easy to follow and a definite asset in any therapist's library.
  8. Doctor Tramontana has written a excellent book on the practice of Sports Hypnosis. This is a book that I can now highly recommend to my future students. He has cited the top people in the field of sports hypnosis and I am sure that all of them will be making this book required reading for anyone interested in using hypnosis with athletes.
  9. In this very practical book on hypnosis and sports, Joseph Tramontana adds to his string of effective publications. His tone is approachable and friendly. Clearly, he has a wide background in hypnosis, which he makes accessible for the novice as well as the experienced clinician.

    Joes approach is straightforward: you dont need to be an accomplished athlete in order to be a good mental coach. The stories of his clinical work and extensive contacts with sports luminaries make it easy for the reader to get involved. In addition to many scripts, he gives suggestions on how to talk to coaches and athletes in order to market a viable sport hypnosis practice.
  10. The increasing popularity of mental training in sport, and in particular sports hypnosis, has created a need for a comprehensive practical guide for hypnotherapists and sports psychologists interested in developing their hypnosis skills in performance related fields. In Sports Hypnosis in Practice, Joseph Tramontana has produced such a guide, filled with case studies, interviews and scripts from his many years experience as a clinical sports psychologist. The book details the methods Dr Tramontana has used in a variety of sports, including the actual hypnosis scripts used in session, as well as providing considerable reference to the research and reading these methods are based on.

    Based on accepted sports psychology principles, Sports Hypnosis in Practice goes beyond just introducing hypnosis to sports psychology, but also examines the role of mental training as a whole, including insightful interviews with coaches and former players. In addition to chapters covering specific sports such as golf, tennis, athletics and show-jumping, Dr Tramontana has included useful guidance for dealing with other issues such as injury recovery and substance abuse. For the experienced hypnotherapist wanting to expand into sport, or the sports psychologist wanting to learn about adding hypnosis to their skillset, this book is an invaluable addition to their library.
  11. Where were you Dr Tramontana when I needed you about 15 years ago?

    The telephone rang and, on answering, I heard a very cultured female voice telling me that she needed my help to improve her golf!

    I needed patients but had to admit to her, in all honesty, that I hardly knew one end of a golf club from the other. If she was happy with that then I was happy to do all that I could.

    She came and, for a couple of sessions we used the first half of the session for her to explain the mechanics of her need - the smooth swing, etc., and the second half introducing all of this hypnotically.

    She was happy. I wasnt. As we progressed I broached the idea that her problem was more her own self belief and confidence than any physical malfunction. Greater belief in her own abilities and a more relaxed outlook on her game would lead to its own steady improvement.

    To begin with I think she was rather offended by me inferring that she was uptight, lacking in confidence, angry with herself, but was prepared to go along with me and let me drop thegolf coaching and concentrate on what I knew best as a hypnotherapist.

    The results were terrific. She went from strength to strength and in a short time started to feature regularly on theroll of honour at her club.

    Other club members asked her what she was doing to bring about this improvement. Was she having private lessons? She did admit to visiting her man in Tewkesbury. It was assumed I was a golf pro who had taken up coaching. They asked for my details as they wished to be able to see the same improvement in their own games. My phone never rang though. As soon as they realised I was a hypnotherapist and not a golfer they rapidly lost interest and added - We dont need that sort of man thank you!

    Times have changed - fortunately - and it is now common place to hear of sports psychologists, etc, working with our leading sportsmen and women. Joseph Tramontanas new book, Sports Hypnosis in Practice is a groundbreaking book explaining how hypnosis can best be used to the benefit of those who are in sport and are seeking to achieve their peak performance.

    In my own experience the client had in her mind that I could, through hypnosis, teach her how better to play golf. As Joseph Tramontana says in his book, this is not the job of the therapist but is the job of the coach. It is for them to develop and extend the mechanical side of the situation which is going to boost physical performance.

    The hypnotherapist, sports counsellor or sports psychologists are there to work on all mental aspects of sport. Importantly, and a great relief to a sports illiterate such as myself, the therapist does not need to be familiar with the sport or the physical activity to be able to be effective and efficient in the role ofmental coach to the sports people who come to him/her.

    This fact is, indeed, one of the main focuses of the book. The author refers to his own experience and says I have had successful outcomes in working with athletes across many sports that I have never played.

    The book is an excellent mix of strategies and scripts. We are given detailed outlines and in depth explanations of how to work with a client and the scripts are extensive and excellent. We are taught how to help the subject relax, concentrate and become more focussed so that s/he is more able to achieve maximum potential.

    We see that the hypnosis road can lead the sportsperson to achieve a better balance in life. For so many the effort to achieve becomes a struggle between achieving physical prowess and improving skill and achievement, often at the risk of allowing mental fragility to threaten to wreck the path of progress. Many of the prima donnas we see on our football pitches would see their game improve if only they had more skill to manage their mental body. Hypnosis is an excellent medium for changing behaviour, for improving focus, concentration, calm, anger management and much more. Fear and lack of confidence or self belief can also be enhanced. The coach can deal with the physical.

    Put the two together and we stand the chance of producing the balanced sportsman who is able to produce the goods in all areas.

    The book is of great interest in that it gives a wide variety of case studies where the author has worked successfully with sportsmen during his career. Very insightful and fascinating. In particular I liked the fact that many of the sportsmen and women would talk to him, perhaps years down the line, and be able to recount to him in great detail their hypnotic experiences and techniques. The value was seen clearly and was very well received and , as a result, became part of the everyday tool bag for success for countless athletes. They acknowledged, without reservation, the enormous benefit it had brought them.

    The author leaves no stone unturned. We hear constantly of sports injury and also, sadly, of drug abuse in sport. Both of these are given time and space within the book and we are given insight and help into how best to help an athlete returning from injury or addiction. Inspirational and very illuminating.

    There is also a section on Affirmations which I just loved.

    Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond to it.!

    Put you heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.

    When being given this book to review I thought Oh dear, sport!

    I need not have worried.

    The book is an excellent reference book and handbook for any therapist to dip into and find the tools and techniques, the strategies for success when dealing with clients who seek help in relation to their sporting life.

    It is a book I am delighted to recommend and I feel that it has the potential of becoming a best seller in this age where sport is so pressurised yet, a far cry from my early experience, where its participants are far more open minded and aware that so much of their success stems from their thoughts not just from their raw physical talent.
  12. Anyone serious about hypnotic sport psychology will insist on having this book in their library. The chapters on working with the injured athlete returning to their sport and working with the addicted athlete are both unique and most valuable. Taking the information in this book and individualizing and tailoring it to the sportsperson actually sitting in front of you will garner great results!
  13. An excellent read for sports psychologists, sports therapists and lovers of sport. Techniques that work are all backed up by a wealth of experience.
  14. Hypnotherapists who enjoy working with athletes or who want to add sports psychology to their practices will cheer for Joseph Tramontana`s Sports Hypnosis in Practice. Unlike other fine books that address hypnosis for a specific sport (like Tom Saunder`s Golf) or a generic approach to hypnosis for all sports (like Edgette and Rowan`s Winning the Mind Game), this book devotes individual chapters to specific sports, from gymnastics to rugby: Fifteen individual and team sports in all.

    The book opens with an overview of the literature on sports hypnosis and the emergence of sports psychology. The first chapter gives information on general considerations for the practitioner, such as introducing sports hypnosis to the client, tests of hypnotizability, hypnotic inductions, deepening, guided imagery, self-hypnosis, regression, reframing, and cognitive behavioral therapy. The subsequent chapters, on hypnotic approaches to specific sports, show practitioners that each sport has its own vocabulary and performance standards. The author writes from his own experience as a runner and as a hypnotherapist who has worked with many athletes; amateurs and professionals.

    Like Tramontana`s Hypnotically Enhanced Treatment for Addictions, this book is highly readable with excellent case examples (many of which can be used as metaphors), hypnotic scripts, treatment strategies, and verbatim interviews with coaches and athletes about the psychology behind specific sports. A chapter on helping athletes recover from injury includes pain management, imagery for healing, and a hypnotic question-answer process for pinpointing the origin of psychosomatic illness. The final chapter on addictions and eating disorders in sports is as timely as today`s sports headlines. This book hits a home run!

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