Mind Over Sports


Posted on: February 29, 2012

Much has been written about the placebo effect as related to the field of health, but it can also apply to the field of sports performance. For example, let’s assume you are a member of a men’s college basketball team and since your days in Junior College you’ve had difficulty making free throws, even though you have the skill level to make them. And one day you and your coach decide to produce a 3 ½ minute highlight video of you accompanied by a music sound track with lyrics that have a special meaning, and in the video you see yourself constantly shooting and making every free throw. You watch the video over and over and over again and just before competing, you listen to only the music track and the images on your video are recreated in your mind. (This is called “image transference.”) Based on my experience, if you have the skill level to make free throws and are unencumbered with personal and team-related issues in your life, by watching your video and BELIEVING that watching your video will improve your free throw shooting percentage, it will. Same applies to making 3-point shots.
According to George Leonard in his book “The Silent Pulse” the placebo effect “works best when both the patient (athlete) and healer (coach) are convinced of the power of the treatment (the video). The healer (coach) simply authorizes the patient (athlete) to do what he or she is already easily capable of: that is to control even the most esoteric bodily functions, to grow or destroy tissues, to produce sickness or health” (making free throws or 3-point shots.)


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