• Posted in October 2017
  • Article written by Josh Carroll

NLP and Sports - Where two worlds merge and the outcome is ultra high performance

When thinking back to the origins of NLP in its early days, you would not be forgiven in thinking that NLP and Sports were polar opposites in society.

However, as time has moved on and both fields have evolved, these different worlds have begun to merge into parallel routes whose outcomes may not be so dissimilar after all. This has been partly due from the intensity within modern day sports and the massive rewards that having the ‘edge’ over a competitor can have to an athlete or team.

This has led to coaches and high profile athletes seeking new ways to gain this mental edge in sports that range from the grassroots youth development to elite athletes winning major championships.

NLP was originally formulated as a discipline to provide therapists with tools to help them be more effective. As it evolved it became apparent, that NLP as a science of excellence can be applied in any context where high performance is valued. So in terms of sporting excellence, NLP is the ultimate mind development system providing sports people with the mental resilience for high levels of achievement and coaches with communication tools and psychological processes to motivate individuals and teams.

I have been in the fortunate position to have grown up on NLP.  My brother Jack Carroll and I, as highly competitive sports people have naturally integrated NLP into our sporting activities. I have also had the opportunity to watch my father, Michael Carroll, work with high profile sports people and how successful that coaching has been.

For me, it seemed natural to take my degree in Sports Development and Coaching Sciences, thus utilising that knowledge and integrating it with NLP to create NLP courses and coaching experiences designed to get high performance in sports.

I have witnessed the positive effects of NLP on achieving high performance from my coaching experience where I had conversations with many high profile coaches about varying patterns that they have deployed (sometimes without knowing that they are doing it), to speaking with friends who have used NLP in their coaching to achieve fantastic results. Then on a recreational level, I hear many stories of people who have studied and applied NLP to achieve enhanced results on an elite and non-elite level.

But how can this be achieved?

This can be achieved with a delicate blend of the Classic and New Code of NLP.

The Classic Code of NLP that was developed by Bandler and Grinder in the 1970’s can provide coaches with an effective tool for communication and positive relationships with athletes that are vital skills for a coach. I am almost certain that most sports people have had a coach that they didn’t connect with and that didn’t provide them with the belief to perform to the best of their ability.

Then on the other side of the coin, I remember having a coach who I felt believed in me and I really looked up too. This led to me performing at my peak in every game with confidence in my ability and my team’s ability because of the relationship with the coach. This was at a grassroots level, but at a professional level it is frequent for athletes to talk about ‘running through walls’ for their coach and mentioning how they were once inspired by a coach.

This ‘coach effect’ is massive in sport, it could also be seen as a ‘leader effect’ with high profile members of a team or organisation inspiring individuals to reach their highest levels of confidence and performance each time they participate in sport or any situation in life. This is the effect that you can apply with the correct understanding and application of the Classic Code NLP patterns.

Blending Classic Code NLP with New Code of NLP, created by John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair with recent inputs from Michael Carroll, you can create peak performance states at will which take athletes to a significantly higher level of performance.

These states can also be described as high performance states that are the moments of peak performance in sports where you are unconsciously performing to your highest level. So if you use scoring in football for example, these states would be when you score a goal but after the event you have no real recollection of how you scored the goal and you have a very limited recollection of internal dialogue or thought at the moment of scoring.

The state I am describing is sometimes called the ‘know nothing state’ because you are performing without thinking and can be typified by Andy Murray’s quote after his famous victory over Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon - ‘I have no idea just what happened out there’.

The last hour of that final was electric to watch, with many match points and each player giving it their all. Murray was physically exhausted but managed to dig deep and give the performance of his life, such an ‘in the moment’ experience of excellence that his brain is working so differently his conscious mind is silent whilst his unconscious takes over and provided the ‘know nothing state’.

The New Code of NLP seeks to create these states so ‘at will’ during sporting events, extreme levels of high performance can be achieved, which of course is an invaluable tool for an athlete at any level. As well as this, the New Code breaks through the barriers that can limit performance of an individual in sport, this could be a moment of self-doubt on ability or even the individuals internal representation of fitness that could cost them. This can be replaced by focussed attention on the positive outcome of a sporting event that will assist you in achieving sporting excellence.

So when I think about these different worlds that would have appeared alien to each other in the 1970s, is a lot closer than some may think and now with the integration of Classic and New Code NLP techniques NLP and Sports NLP run hand in hand for sporting excellence. These skills will prove invaluable for anyone with an interest in achieving high performance in sports or any form of life. If you are interested in achieving the best results possible check out our course calendar for upcoming courses here

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