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NLP in Sports

NLP, or neuro-linguistic programming, is a rich area of study that can be applied in many aspects of human life, including business, family, career, advertising, personal development training and many others. Surprisingly, it can also be used in the world of sports. The truth is, knowledge and application of proven NLP techniques and methods can help inspire peak athletic performance, promote team work and coordination, aid coaching, and motivate teams to do what it takes to win. In this article, we will tackle some areas of sports where NLP can be used. Although what we will present here is not an exhaustive list, it is enough to stress the point that NLP is really useful for athletes and coaches.

Athletes and coaches should be made aware of NLP representational systems. These are "systems" of thinking that enable an individual to perceive the world and thus influence their behavior (and the behavior of other people). The five representational systems are the visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory senses. It is through these five senses that the mind is influenced and a person is able to construct his or her own "map" of the world. The only way to influence these representational systems is through the use of sensory based language. Each representational system has a corresponding language by which it responds to. There are visual words, auditory words, kinesthetic words, gustatory words, and olfactory words. By learning certain words that appeal to each of the five senses, communication can be enhanced among team mates and coordination can improved. For example, instead of simply saying, "Let's go for the win", a coach can use olfactory language by saying, "We can smell the victory! Let's go get it". There are many other ways by which sensory based language can be used to improve communication.

The next NLP skill that can be used in sports is eliciting internal states. An internal state is simply a state of mind. If a person is happy, then he is in a happy internal state. What's fascinating about this information is that internal states can be evoked by conscious thought or by outer stimuli. A coach can evoke internal states of peak performance in an athlete at very crucial parts of the game. In basketball, there is a particular mood of a player called "the zone". When a player is said to be "in the zone", it means he suddenly becomes unstoppable in the court, keeps making points and appears invincible. Michael Jordan, one of the best basketball players in history, claims that many of the games that his team won through his last minute shooting started with a certain unexplainable feeling. Suddenly, he feels that the air is charged and that everyone is relying on him to make the shot. That is an example of an internal state. It is the internal state of confidence and desire to win. Through time, Jordan was able to evoke that internal state in very crucial games, and it led his team to winning many championships.

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John Cassidy-Rice and the NLP Excellence team