Row row row your boat .........NLP for overcoming sports performance anxiety


I've just had a rowing client, my first in fact although I've had a number of sports' clients over the years; golf, gymnastics, swimming, football, tennis but never rowing. But I'm telling you so that you can see how the NLP principles work even when the coach knows nothing about the sport.........it's all about the feelings and what you make them mean that get between you and your optimum performance.


She knew her feeling was irrational. But they so often are, aren't they. Her fear was that she would let her team down, get it wrong, be humiliated.


I used Parts Integration to start with. I asked her to hold out both hands and put on one of them that part of her that held this fear of getting it wrong, her panic just at the start of the race. She described it as a steel ball bearing. It was very heavy, she could barely hold it.



I asked her to hold in her other hand the part of her who could change this, her best self. She quickly used words like 'light', 'free', 'breezy', 'chilled', 'nurturing'.


It struck me how it seemed that in that hand she held her divine feminine energy and in the other, her distorted masculine energy.


What she needed for optimum sports performance was her divine masculine energy to get the job done and be in her most confident and resourceful state. That wasn't going to be her divine feminine for sure!


We were easily able to access her best state once I described the divine feminine, distorted feminine, divine masculine and distorted masculine. It was at work when she opened her laptop she knew she had the skills and confidence to do her job.


I decided to lead her through an Anchoring exercise to anchor that state for her rowing. The action of raising the lid of her laptop proved to be the best action as I had discovered that she was kinaesthetic from her language pattern. She did the anchoring a number of times, associating into the work state that she could access for her rowing. It never ceases to amaze me how 'We already have the resources we need' which is one of the NLP Presuppositions.


She then explained that there was another point in the race where she often panicked, when they go into 'stride'. We went back to the workplace and she said that once she'd sorted out the work problem she sends out an email. This was the sign that she had done the job well and done what she needed to get done.


We translated that to the boat again and the action of pushing the oars away, she felt, could be the feeling of pushing out the email and having done what needs to be done.


When things were going well, it was like flying, like Superman, with purpose and direction. But she would have to visualise this because she wouldn't be able to take her hands off the oars.





I went back to her Parts exercise to check in with her steel ball bearing. "It's not there anymore" she said "it's rolled off". In it's place was her Divine Masculine which she described as 'warm malleable clay', 'strong but flexible and relaxed with power and solidity'.


I love working with newbies to NLP, I love their delight and amazement at the simplicity of the techniques and how in one hour something that has been troubling them for a long time can be quickly and gracefully resolved.


If i can help you with a sports issue, or indeed any issue, please get in touch. Remember you can have 30 minutes free of charge to talk through your situation and I can suggest how we might tackle it together. You'll find other sports examples in my book 'Secrets of the NLP Masters' which you can buy from my bookshop or from Amazon of course.



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