NLP, Sports Psychology & Performance Coaching – Demonstrating the Mind-Body Link. Part 2 of 2
This article builds on the previous article, which showed how the mind affects the body and physical flexibility. These two exercises can be a useful physical demonstration to help make sports coaches and athletes, and indeed business people aware of the mind-body link.
2 Arm strength
Ask for a volunteer (ideally someone of a similar physical stature to you) if you are doing this in front of the group. Ask for someone who has no shoulder or arm problems, and is OK with you touching their arm.
i) Ask the volunteer to hold their arm up, parallel with the floor, palm upwards.
ii) Ask the volunteer to keep their arm strong and resist while you pull downwards just above their wrist. NB. You are only pulling to measure how much effort you would need to apply to pull their arm downwards. This is NOT as battle, merely an initial measurement. You want to keep the athlete fit without shoulder injury!
iii) Ask the volunteer to think of a bad performance, or a mistake they made in sport, or something negative. Repeat step ii) while they are thinking of this negative. Almost always, it will be easier to pull the arm down, i.e. the athlete will feel weaker.
iv) Ask the volunteer to think of a great performance, or a time when they felt really strong, or something very positive. Repeat step ii) while they are thinking of this positive situation. Almost always, it will be much harder to pull the arm down, i.e. the athlete will feel much stronger.
Sometimes I replace ii) and iii) with the following (whilst their arm is still raised) (using a fairly gentle, slow-paced voice):
“Imagine all the Earth’s energy, from the (molten) lava, coming up though the floor, into your feet, and then spreading upwards through your body through your ankles, your knees, thighs, your hips and stomach, your chest. Imagine all this amazing energy from the Earth filling up your whole body, and the only place it can escape is through your arm, like a laser beam coming out through your fingers, as your arm feels like a rod of steel.”
Pay attention to them, and when they are clearly in an altered state, pull downwards on their arm. It will be much stronger than in ii) above.
This, plus the arm-turning exercise, will give athletes and coaches an undeniable personal experience of how the mind impacts on the body. This will then help make them more open-minded to the work you’ll be doing with them.
1 Initially practice this with individuals or small groups of colleagues, just to get the hang of it.
2 If you are doing the ‘arm-strength’ exercise with a group, consider asking them to pair up with someone of a similar physical stature to them. NB. Strongly emphasise that this is NOT a competition, and that they must be relatively gentle with each other. Speaking as someone who was once a highly competitive and excitable 18 year-old needing to prove myself, I strongly recommend that you think about whether your group are suitable for this exercise! You absolutely do NOT want to risk physical injury!
If you have any questions, contact Jeremy (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.thelazarus.com).