Tapping into your Potential : Energy Psychology Techniques to Increase Performance

This article is scheduled to appear in the march issue of OT magazine.

By Dr Robert Schwarz

Any athlete knows that the mental aspect of the game becomes increasingly important as you become more and more proficient. Whether it is golf, baseball, basketball or tennis, once you have trained your body to do the skills associated with your sport, the real trick to excelling is to reliably step into a high performance state of mind. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just press a button on your body to take you immediately into the high performance zone. Now you can!

Tim Galloway’s formula about performance from the Inner Game series is a useful concept. Performance = Potential minus interference. Most sports psychologists, and business coaches for that matter, focus on helping people with their inner game by removing the interferences. Energy Psychology is a new and powerful tool that allows you to drastically reduce the interference with speed and grace that is almost unbelievable. Noted sports psychologist Tom Hanson author of Heads Up Baseball was skeptical at first, but now he has become a convert, stating “I can double or even quadruple my results with people”.

What is Energy Psychology (EP)? EP allows people to do one of three things: 1) enter or maintain a high performance state 2) reduce or eliminate negative emotional reactions such as anxiety, anger or self-criticism, 3) reduce or eliminate mental blocks to performance.

The term “energy” refers to the energy system of the body that flows through the meridian systems described in acupuncture or Qigong. EP follows the Eastern tradition and asserts that your mental state is controlled by the flow of energy in your system far more than by your nervous system. Being “in the zone” is more a matter of free flowing and balanced energy rather than a condition of your nerves. Research has shown that the meridian system transfers information up to 10 times faster than your nerves.

Several months ago college pitcher Jorge Reyes was caught on television tapping himself. Jorge a freshman at Oregon State ended up becoming the MVP in the college world series. That tapping was a form of Energy Psychology taught to him by Greg Warburton, an expert in using EP in sports. According to Warburton one of the things Reyes was doing was stabilizing a high performance mental state by thinking “I am pitching great” while tapping on meridian points.

Super Charging Imagery and Positive Thinking

The idea of using positive statements and mental imagery is hardly a new idea. The trick has always been to make those statements go in, especially in high-pressure situations. Working with the energy system appears to actually do just that. In a controlled study done by the Dr. Dawson Church and the soul medicine institute, that is not yet published, basketball players were given coaching using an EP approach called EFT compared to more conventional methods about how to think and the use of positive statement. The basketball players that had used EFT improved their free throw ability significantly more than the other group.

One aspect of EP is to tap on meridian acupuncture points while focusing attention on different aspects of the “inner game”. The meridian stimulation helps to lock the system in place on positive trains of thought such as the one Reyes was doing. It also helps to unlock negative trains of thought that interfere with performance. For instance, I worked with a golfer named Tony who stated “ I cannot focus once I make a bad shot – I just fall to pieces”. He was taught to tap a series of points while saying “Even though I missed that shot, I am calm and focused”. When he would miss a shot, instead of falling to pieces, he would use the EP procedure reduce the interference and play up to his potential.

Many times the issues that interfere have little to do with the game itself. Over 70 years ago noted Russian neuropsychologist Alexander Luria demonstrated that when subjects were upset and in conflict, it created measurable negative effects on their motor functioning and performance. If you are upset about other things in your life, it is difficult to perform up to your potential, be it in sports the arts or business. So some times the best focus is to use EP techniques to reduce the emotional upset in your life.

Try it yourself

Here are two examples of simple EP approaches that you can use immediately:

1) Think of a statement that connotes a specific positive state of mind that you want to strengthen or maintain in the face of adversity. Make them as specific to you as possible. Examples might be: “I am calm and focused when I putt”, “I catch every ball I touch”, “I am confident and relaxed at meetings, “I am one with my horse.” See the diagram for the energy points. Then tap this sequence of points 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Use about10 taps per point. Repeat this several times. Use this before a game or competition and repeat as needed

2) Most EP approaches include the concept of energetically activating self-acceptance in the face of a problem. When we make a mistake, it is our negative reactions to the mistake that causes more trouble than the mistake itself. We get psyched out. When you are upset or psyched out do the following procedure to reduce this negative state. Step 1) Rub the sore point and say to yourself “Even though I _____________ ( whatever the problem state is: e.g. I am anxious/angry; missed the last shot; cannot sleep), I deeply and profoundly accept, love and forgive myself”. Focus your attention on the upset. Then tap points 1-7. Most people will notice their upset going down. Repeat the procedure several times until the negative state is either gone or very low. You can then use the first procedure to strengthen the positive.

These are only a few of the many different EP approaches. Yes, I know it seems a bit strange, but to paraphrase Einstein, “You cannot solve a problem with thoughts and methods that create the problem”. Award winning pitching coach Dan Spencer loves EP stating, “Any coach looks for something to give his players an edge.” Try one or both of these examples of this new approach to solving problems and increasing performance and step and discover the next step to your inner game!

Dr. Robert Schwarz is a psychologist, coach and speaker. He is on the board of directors of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (www.energypsych.org). He has spent 26 years learning the most powerful methods for improving human functioning and well-being. He works with athletes, performers and business people to maximize their performance. For more information to schedule an appointment or to oaarrange a speaking engagement visit www.doctor-bob.net or call 610-642-0884