Matt Wingett describes how the Olympics are a great chance to model the best in the world.
The Secrets of Success, in which Richard Bandler finds out the strategies of the great Olympians.
It has been fascinating watching the Olympics athletes doing their thing this summer in London and a real tribute to what human beings can achieve when they set their mind to it.
For NLPers it's also a great moment to watch how the greatest in the world do what they do.
Athletes have a many, many different ways to get into "The Zone" - in which their mental and physical resources are utterly focussed on the present task in hand. Athletes describe being in The Zone as being like a timeless moment in which there is nothing outside of the competition they are in. It is a very distinct state of mind. Some athletes describe it is as if the choices they make on the field, the tactics they employ on the track are somehow not even their own, but seem to come from a deeper level in which the body takes charge before the mind can analyse.
Sporting excellence can be looked at as having several distinct components.
There is of course the tireless training.
Then there is finding the motivation to train - the numerous habits of mind that bring the determination to the athlete to keep going and to push themselves to new heights even when it hurts, or when there are distractions outside of the sport to be attended to.
Then there is the mental rehearsal. The running of the race, the playing of the ball, the hurling of the javelin - whatever it may be - over and over again, so that the movements and the physicality of the athlete are utterly familiar. Athletes talk about "seeing themselves winning a race over and over again" before they even take part.
How they do so can make all the difference. Watching yourself win from a disassociated viewpoint may give you the impetus you need to want to win - but it may also give you the idea that you are always "watching someone else win". Olympic gold medallist Iwan Thomas reveals in The Secrets of Success DVD that he would repeatedly imagine succeeding "as if he were looking out of his own eyes."
Finally, there is anchoring peak performance. Sportsmen and women the world over have their own personal ways to bring the expectation of peak performance to life.
While for some fans taking a "lucky rabbit's foot" to a match or a game might be as far as they get with developing their anchoring ("lucky rabbit's foot" is a curious ambiguity, huh?), look out for that moment just before the point of focus descends on the great athletes.
At the Olympic swimming events nearly all the swimmers had iPods in their ears when they emerged from the changing rooms. Playing music that you associate with excellence, or a sound track or recording can be the auditory anchor your need to get you pumped up to perform.
At Olympic track events, you often see runners go through a pre-contest ritual. They may kick up their legs behind them, clutch their right wrist with their left hand, tilt the head to left and to right. It might be that the athlete kisses a silver pendant, or closes their eyes for a moment to take a deep breath and draw themselves inward - a mixture of visual and kinaesthetic anchors.
Whatever they are doing, they are pulling up the resources that they have built up over years of training. Those simple actions bring them to the state of mind where they are ready to go, because they have, over the years of training, associated those actions with that moment of pure competition.
When they are going through their ritual, you will see their eyes lose focus for a moment. A calm descends on the face.
This is the classic moment at which the athletes enter the zone. To a hypnotist and NLPer it looks very, very familiar! It's trance, pure and simple.
So, look out for the tricks of athletes as you watch sports events, be that the Olympics, or whatever other event. There is plenty to learn from those extraordinary athletes!