By Jan Scholtes, Mental Coach, NLP Practitioner, EFT Practitioner
I thought it would be inspiring for other practitioners to read something about how to work with athletes and use EFT on negative beliefs and how to use visualization and EFT in combination. Because the fellow I am writing about is known worldwide, I won’t tell too much about his private issues, but I think this story is clear enough to get your ideas out of it.
I have known this athlete, Rens Blom, for many years and we see each other several times a year. He learned his basic techniques about how to get the proper relaxation on the right moments and we knew the importance of his thoughts during his preparations and during the games. But after I learned NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), we had more tools for handling his obstructive thoughts. However, after I learned EFT, we had, in combination with NLP, a much stronger and effective tool to handle all that.
Let me tell you what kind of things we did all the way to this success.
We managed to find out his negative thoughts on important moments during his preparations and the match. I had him make a diary of his activities and thoughts during the preparation on the day of the match. In this diary I read a lot of doubts about his condition, doubts about how to behave as a sportsman , doubts about which pole to use and doubts about things which could go wrong. These were not the thoughts of a champion who believed in himself. These were the thoughts of a boy who was doubting all day and was very easy influenced by things which happened around him. His thoughts were always sticking on the scenario of failure.
I taught him the EFT tapping techniques, which he thought was pretty strange. We tapped on his doubts and things that always went wrong during important tournaments like “Even though I feel very doubtful and afraid of making the wrong decisions…”
I asked him what would be his biggest problem about making the wrong decisions. After a moment of reflections he looked at me and said. “I get anxious about the tone of the journalists and the critics when they commend my way of jumping.”
When I asked him if this reminded him of criticism which he experienced before in his life, he remembered a trainer in his youth who very often had an authoritarian air which brought up feelings of resistance in him. I asked, ”What’s bothering you so much about people who act like an authority?” Rens answered: “It’s often the tone of their voice that makes me feel guilty, as if I deserve punishment and I hate that.” It also reminded him of his father, a disciplined man who had been a great sportsman too and whose tone of voice had a lot of temper. “He’s a good-hearted man and supports me everywhere I go,” Rens said. “But when I was younger, he could be more helpful.”
After having said that we tapped on issues like:
“Even though the tone of my father’s voice is still in the back of my head…”
“Even though he always wanted me to do the things his way…”
“Even though I hate dominant men…”
“Even though I feel resistance against compelling ways of arguing…”
“Even though I have this problem with authority…”
He felt relieved after having brought those feelings to his consciousness and having tapped on them.
During important athlete games, at his third effort on a certain height, he failed and got very frustrated and showed a lot of frustration. “I gave 100% and I did my upmost,” he tried to convince me. For some reason I didn’t share that opinion because I was there and sensed something else. I asked him to, very slowly, review the film of his thoughts during the time between his second jump and the start of his third effort. After about 20 seconds, he glanced at me and said, “Shit, when I was sitting on the bank, I was preparing my excuse for the press.” His game was already over.
From that he learned how important it is to consistently scan his negative thoughts, to be mentally aware, and to stay focused on the positive goal.
There was also the issue of breaking out of his comfort zone. He hadn’t jumped a new personal record since two years and got frustrated about that. When I asked him if he had ever had a mental picture of seeing himself jumping to a new personal record he remembered that he had tried but that those movies were always ending in a failure.
I had him visualize a movie in which he would jump to his new personal record (about 5 cm more, to keep it realistic for him). That wasn’t that easy for him because he kept seeing himself doing wrong jumps. I asked him if he could remember his best jump ever and how that felt. Of course he could, sportsman have those memories, same as they have strong memories about their failures. I asked him to use that positive kinesthetic feeling and that state of mind in his new movie and let him try again. He had more luck this time and I asked him to train this way mentally while being aware that it was on personal record level and use an EFT statement like. “Even though I feel perfect jumping over 5.80…”
Rens always preferred nice weather during the games. That’s when he made his best jumps. In cold weather he always felt miserable, got cramps, and started complaining.
During the last world championships in Helsinki, Finland this year, the weather was stormy, cold, and it rained cats and dogs. A nice scenario for Rens to prove that always everything goes wrong during important tournaments. After the classifications, during which it stormed enormously, we had contact by email. I read the email of an athlete who had learned how to handle these conditions. I didn’t read something about doubts; I read about his chances and determination to do his outmost.
He was self-supporting now and used statements like:
“Even though I hate bad weather…”
“Even though I get distracted under these weather conditions…”
“Even though I hate these conditions, I choose to accept them and handle them
During the finals he heard all his fellow competitors yell and curse about the bad weather condition and one after another they left the competition. He heard it all and it made him stronger in his determination to accept everything. His thoughts were: “OK, guys, spoil your energy on the weather. I stay by myself, I accept this weather, I am a professional, and I want to do my job.”
To end this story...
After Rens became world champion, the Russian Serge Bubka, the big example for Rens, and multi-champion vault jumper, gave him the biggest compliment he could get. He admired Rens for his courage and determination and that his strong character in those terrible weather conditions had made him a world champion.
I was at home in front of the TV and saw it all happen. Who could have imagined this some years ago, this doubtful young man who possessed lots of videos of Serge Bubka, receiving such a compliment from his hero? For me, it was again proof that a lot is possible when the mind is free.
Let this story inspire lots of other EFT colleagues. Even though when one is not a specialist in a specific sport but has a heart for doing sport and can have good rapport with athletes, one can make a great difference with EFT.
After the world games, I was asked to help more athletes with their preparations for the next Olympic games. I met them last week and listened to their fears and failures and explained about the importance of mental hygiene. In a Borrowing Benefits session, we worked on several issues with individual athletes and the results where instant. One of them had an enormous experience of failure during the Olympic Games in Athens, which still troubled him during every match. After one session, he felt relieved from that. The expression on his face told the whole story. All of them felt a strong relief of their problems they worked on and pronounced they definitely wanted to work with me.
In individual talks with them, I heard there is still a lot to do, but what a challenge is that for me and for EFT.