Olympic Games 2024: hypnosis, the new miracle tool for athletes

“Your eyelids are heavy”, “On my signal, you will fall asleep”… You may have these phrases in mind when you think about hypnosis

Olympic Games 2024: hypnosis, the new miracle tool for athletes

“Your eyelids are heavy”, “On my signal, you will fall asleep”… You may have these phrases in mind when you think about hypnosis. But far from the show aspect, this technique is today used in the medical and sporting world. Objective ? Enabling professional athletes to feel better and be more focused on their performance.

How to define hypnosis? According to the French Institute of Hypnosis, it is a “modified state of consciousness, different from the usual waking state, where things are perceived differently. In the 1990s, this state was identified and characterized using brain imaging, thus attesting to its real existence. Scientifically, we can now say that the hypnotic state is a reality. »

Several sports legends like Michael Jordan have used hypnosis to improve their mental preparation. The most practiced method in sport is that of Milton Erickson (1901-1980), American psychiatrist, considered the father of modern hypnosis. “We often tend to think that hypnosis is a way of taking control over people. For me, it's the opposite. It’s giving people the opportunity to regain control over themselves, over their emotions,” explains Christophe Massina, head of the French women’s judo team and practitioner in conversational and Ericksonian hypnosis. “Therapeutic and Ericksonian hypnosis have nothing to do with show hypnosis. They are mainly oriented towards questioning to get the person to find their own solutions […], we use breathing, suggestions. It is about raising awareness, by opening the field of possibilities, that our sensations can be totally different from what is really happening. »

Éric Delaunay, sports shooter (skeet), 5th at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, has been using hypnosis for several years. For him, it all started from an observation after the Rio Olympic Games (2016) where the Norman finished 7th. “After the Rio Olympics, where I finished close to the final, I realized that my seasons were often up and down. I wondered why […]. Shooting for me is 70% mental and this was the part I wasn't practicing enough. »

Then follows research work for the athlete, who contacts a sophrologist then a hypnotherapist who has been with him for almost six years in a climate of trust. “He found out about my sport, he came to see me at the shooting range, we worked a lot beforehand to find out what stress management I needed. »

The double world team champion (2010-2011) takes the time to explain to us how a session takes place: “We work in particular on anchoring, through mental imagery where I will imagine myself shooting a good target. precise. This allows me to increase and strengthen the technical gestures linked to my discipline so that it becomes a deep anchor. With hypnosis, I work on the conscious to improve my actions and, afterward, I transfer to the unconscious so that it becomes natural to be more effective during competitions. » The 36-year-old shooter recognizes that this hypnotic trance state offers him optimal concentration. He sees it as a way to find himself in a “well-being bubble”.

Thus, Éric Delaunay sees it as the ideal tool to better understand the 2024 Olympics. “I continue to work on the state of well-being and strengthen my skills. As we are lucky enough to know the locations of the Olympic Games, I can already imagine myself on the shooting range, get a feeling of déjà vu and approach things more calmly. »

It remains for hypnosis to find a significant place in French sport. “It’s a personal motivation that starts from the athlete. He discovers a method that allows him to be more efficient and to work alone. What is interesting is to lead him towards self-hypnosis. The goal is not to be dependent on someone, but to have your own techniques to have an impact on yourself. For me, we give keys, for “light” problems. Beyond that, support is necessary and this no longer concerns the sporting field. »