The art/science of NLP is often said that it could have been designed for use in sport!
Think about it. In the world of professional sport what is the difference between the person who comes first in a competition and the person who comes third, or fifth or eight? Is it talent? Is it technique? Is it physical ability? Is it mind-set?
It is usually a combination of the above with mind-set becoming more important the closer you get to that winning spot.
There are plenty of examples of people who have perhaps, not had the most talent, but have risen to the top because of their mind-set. Think of Ian Poulter from the golfing world or the great Michael Schumacher from motor racing. Neither of those men are/were the most gifted, or talented within their sport yet both have achieved great things due to their unrivalled mind-set.
If we look at the professional world of golf and use an example. A couple of years ago Rory McIlroy won the European Tour. The difference between him and the person who came 90thon the European Tour that year was 2 shots per round. 2 shots!
It is much easier to find those two shots per round from the mind-set of the golfer than through technique changes.The reason why NLP in sport can be used so effectively, is that it gives us tools to understand the mental processes that the sports person goes through in each element of their sport, identify any problems and then change the processes to give a better result for the client. The difference that can be made in achievements are awesome.
Think of Gemma Paternoster, my Team GB show jumping client. Earlier this year we changed a couple of things in her strategies and her way of thinking about events and what happened? She won 4 out of the next 5 Grand Prix!
NLP is the coaching tool of choice now for professional sports people because it is a fast way of making large improvements to performance.
Let’s have a look at a knowledge of NLP can be applied to sport and for this example, I will take something that I do with golfers.
The big picture is that a golfer’s game can be broken down into tee shots, long iron shots (long distances), medium iron shots (medium distances), short iron shots (short distances), recovery shots (when they are in trouble), sand shots (bunkers) and putting on the greens.
Each of those will have a series of strategies behind each shot. Now a strategy is a sequence of ‘things’ that you do in your head. For example you might see a picture, then get a feeling, then say something to yourself and then hit the ball. On average a golfer will have something between 5 and 7 strategies running before every type of shot.
So if we elicit all the strategies for every component of their game we will end up with about 50 strategies. Why would I do that?
Well, for consistency, I would be looking for similar strategies before each shot. Similar patterns and this is usually true for professional golfers.
However, if they are having a problem in a particular area of their game, say their short game, what is normally the case is that the sequence of strategies that they are running for their short game is different from all the other elements of their game that are working well.
Hence we look for the anomaly, the strategy that is different, and utilising a strategy installation technique, we change that strategy resulting in instant improvement to that element.
In addition to this we can work with our golfer’s beliefs and values since both of these run the behaviour or physiology of the client and we can align that part of their thinking to the results that they want.
So NLP is a GREAT tool when applied to the context of sport giving immediate improvement to the performance of sports people.