The Effects of Hypnosis on Flow States and Golf-Putting Performance




Copyright ©2001bytheAssociationforAdvancement of AppliedSportPsychology


The Effects of Hypnosis on Flow States

and Golf-Putting Performance





subject multiplebaselineacrosssubjectsdesigncombinedwithaprocedurethat


of interventionutilizedinthisstudyinvolvedhypnoticinduction, hypnoticre-

gression, andtriggercontrol procedures. Theresultsindicatedthat all 5partici-

pantsincreasedboththeir meangolf puttingperformanceandtheir meanflow

scoresfrombaselinetointervention. Therewerenooverlappingdatapointsbe-

tweenthebaselineandinterventionforeitherperformanceorflowstate. Addi-

tionally, eachparticipantindicatedthattheyhadfelt theinterventionwasuseful

inkeepingthemrelaxed, confident, andfocused. Threeof thegolfersalsore-

portedexperiencingreducedconcernsabout performingandmorecontrol over



aninordinateamount of timebetweenshotswaitingtoplay. Thistimespent be-


atepsychological stateforperformance. Recently, Catley, andDuda(1997)have

indicatedthatagolfer’sabilitytocontrolpre-performancepsychological statesis

as important as skill level. Their studyalsorevealedthat apsychological state

describedbyCsikszentmihalyi (1975)asflowwasstronglyassociatedwithpeak


whoindicatedthat improvedperformances, alowerhandicap, andgreaterenjoy-

ment of thegamecouldbeassociatedwithtechniquesdesignedtofacilitatethe

flowexperience. Aninterestingaspect offlowisthat onecannot forceit tohap-

pen. However,accordingtoLoehr(1994),manytop-levelathleteshaveidentified

theirownidealperformancestate, andhavelearnedstrategiestocreateandmain-

Manuscript submitted22June2000; revisionreceived13November2000.


HallamUniversity, CollegiateHall, CollegiateCresent Campus, Sheffield, SouthYork-

shire, S102BP, U.K. E-mail:


t ai n the st at e vol unt aril y. For example, i n hi s book Gol f My Way (Nickl aus &

Bowden, 1974), Jack Nickl aus describes t he power of i magery as t he single most

i mport ant el ement in achieving high l evel s of performance.

St udi es from the sport psychol ogy l it erature have also indicat ed i magery has a

posit ive influence on gol f performance. Indeed, Woolfol k, Murphy, Got tesfel d,

and Ai ken (1985) found posi ti ve outcome i magery t o have an enhanci ng effect

upon performance on a golf-putt i ng t ask. Addit i onal ly, Ki rschenbaum, Owens

and O’Connor (1998) found SMART golf, an approach that ut il ized i magery in

t he posi ti ve refocusi ng st age, of a five component program, improved the handi-

cap, emot ional cont rol , and self-talk of experi enced gol fers. Researchers have also

found that gol fers who use imagery techni ques spend signifi cant ly more t ime prac-

t ici ng, set higher goals for t hemselves, have more real ist ic self-expect at ions, and

adhere more t o their t raini ng programs (Mart in & Hal l, 1995).

In addit ion to i magery t echniques, rel axati on has al so been associ at ed wi th

excell ence in eli te professi onal gol fers. For example, McCaffrey and Orli ck (1989)

reported t hat stayi ng cal m and relaxed between and duri ng shot s were important

duri ng tournament pl ay. Cohn (1991) also report ed t hat feeli ng physi call y relaxed

and mentall y calm were important charact eri sti cs of peak performance i n gol f.

Moreover, Murphy and Wool fol k (1987) found t hat a relaxati on technique si gni fi-

cantl y reduced anxiet y and i mproved performance on a gol f put t ing task.

In addit ion t o these fi ndi ngs, some researchers have demonst rat ed t hat when

rel axat ion is combined wit h i magery the effect s on performance are greater than

when t he techniques are used alone. For exampl e, Wei nberg, Seabourne, and Jack -

son (1981) found that vi sual mot or behavior rehearsal (VMBR) a technique that

combi nes i magery and rel axat ion t raini ng i nto one procedure was signifi cant ly

superior to i magery training or relaxati on t raini ng when used to improve karate

performance. In anot her st udy where i magery and rel axat ion were combined wi th

goal setti ng, energy control , and self-monitori ng techniques, Beauchamp, Hal liwell,

Fourni er, and Koest ner (1996) found t hat the int erventi on produced posi ti ve per-

formance effects on a gol f put ti ng task.

Whi le the effi cacy of approaches t hat int egrate imagery and rel axat ion t ech-

niques have been researched (e.g., Seabourne, Wei nberg, Jackson, & Sui nn, 1985)

sport psychol ogi sts have rarely explored t he effect of t hese skil ls when combi ned

wi th hypnoti c procedures. Tradi ti onall y and perhaps st il l wi thi n the publi c sphere,

hypnosis has been regarded as an al tered st at e of consci ousness (or t rance) resem-

bli ng sl eep. The met hods by whi ch hypnosis can be i nduced vary enormously

al t hough rel axat ion, an i nward focus of at tent ion, and i magery are probabl y t he

most common (see Edmonston, 1986; Waxman, 1989).

Close analysis of t he li terature reveal s that t he trance phenomena normal ly as-

soci at ed wi th hypnosi s occurs as a result of parti ci pants fol lowing direct ives to

rapi dl y swi tch att ent ion from emot ional and physical responses induced by rel ax-

at i on, t o emoti onal and physical responses i nduced by imagery. The resul t of this

experi ence produces a hi ghly rel axed psychologi cal st ate oft en referred to as trance.

Foll owing t he i nduct ion of the trance state, suggest ions are t ypi cal ly made that

evoke parti cular behavi ors or experi ences. The nature of suggesti ons wi ll vary



from one sit uat ion and purpose to another al lowing t he interventi on to be designed

around i ndi vidual needs. For exampl e, a responsive gol fer can be inspired t o di s-

play behaviors and emoti ons consi st ent wi th hi s or her experience of opti mal per-


Al though hypnoti c procedures include component s often used in ot her appli ed

sport psychology i ntervent ions such as VMBR, they di ffer from other programs

because t hey require part i cipant s t o enter a hypnoti c st at e before t echni ques such

as imagery and relaxati on are appli ed (See Unest ahl , 1986). Int eresti ngl y, a re-

view of the sport li terature reveals that in many important ways hypnot ic states are

al most identi cal t o peak performance st at es as described by Pri vet te (1983). For

example, i nterviews conduct ed by Unest ahl (1983) on el it e athletes aft er experi-

encing flow i ndi cated t hat flow st at es and hypnoti c st at es share many of the same

qual it ies. These i ncl uded changes i n thinking (less paralysi s by anal ysis), memory

(amnesia), percepti on (slow mot ion and enl argement of object s), di ssociati on (pain

det achment), and informati on processing (paral lel processi ng). Other shared el e-

ments of the two st at es i ncluded dissociati on/detachment from one’s surround-

i ngs, absorpt ion, feeli ngs of control , and percept ual di stort ions such as al tered

percepti ons of ti me (Kihl strom, 1985).

The st ri king si mi lari ti es between fl ow states and hypnot ic st at es suggest that

i nt ervent ions t hat uti li ze hypnosi s as a ment al t rai ni ng technique may increase

personal cont rol of t he fl ow experi ence. Pat es, Maynard, and West bury (i n press)

provi ded some evidence t o support thi s int erpretati on when they ut il ized an idio-

graphi c si ngl e-subj ect repli cat ion-reversal (ABA) design t o analyze t he effect s of

a hypnosis int erventi on on free-t hrow and jump-shoot ing performance i n basket-

bal l players. Thei r resul ts i ndi cat ed that an i ntervent ion consist ing of a hypnot ic

i nduct ion phase designed t o creat e a state of deep rel axat ion, a hypnot ic regression

phase designed to help at hletes reli ve an earl ier l ife experience of t hei r opti mal

performance, and a trigger cont rol phase designed t o bring at hletes ’ ideal perfor-

mance stat e under the cont rol of a st imul us, was hi ghl y effect ive. The intervent ion

i mproved basket ball shoot ing accuracy and el icit ed emot ions and cognit ions nor-

mall y associ at ed wi th fl ow states and successful athl et ic performance.

A fundament al feat ure of the approach of Pat es et al . (i n press) that clearly

different iated t heir work from previous research on hypnosis i n sport was t he use

of tri gger cont rol t echni ques. T ri ggers are words, sounds, images, or a nat ural part

of a rout ine t hat one can do or t hi nk about in order t o i nduce a response usual ly

obtained during t he i nducti on phase of the hypnoti c procedure. Unestahl (1983,

1986) has impli ed t hat sport psychologist s may use two t ypes of t ri ggers for ap-

pli ed work. T he fi rst are natural t riggers which are usuall y part of a normal routi ne

(e. g. , holding the grip of a golf cl ub) whil e t he second are arti fici al tri ggers whi ch

do not form part of a normal rout ine (e.g., a word).

Another feature of the approach used by Pat es et al . (in press) was hypnot ic

regressi on. This t echnique i nvi ted at hlet es t o reli ve an earl ier l ife experi ence of

t hei r opt imal performance wit h no consci ous awareness of any fut ure reali t ies

beyond the ti me frame being experi enced. It ut ili zed a compl et e di ssoci at ion from

any other reference to t he present and as a resul t of t he change in percepti on t he


rekindli ng of t he parti ci pants’ experi ences t ends to be more kinest het ic and emo-

t ive (Hammond, 1990). Duri ng t he regressi on phase of their int erventi on, P at es et

al . (in press) found t hey were abl e t o condit ion posi ti ve emot ions associated wi th

basket bal l players’ i deal performance st at es t o a trigger that al lowed athletes to

access an opti mal performance experi ences during a future event.

The current study att empt ed to extend the work of Pat es et al . (in press) by

evaluat ing the effect iveness of a hypnosi s int erventi on i n facil it at ing flow state s

and performance accuracy i n gol fers. It was expect ed t hat during hypnosi s t he

golfers experi ence of fl ow coul d be condit ioned to a natural trigger. It was t hen

hypot hesized that after condit ioning, the parti ci pants woul d achieve more i ntense

st at es of flow; secondl y, it was hypothesi zed t hat gol fers using t he natural t rigger

would achieve great er accuracy i n the performance of a gol f put ti ng task.

In this study a nat ural t rigger was used inst ead of an arti fici al tri gger because

t he researchers want ed t o demonstrate the effects of a tri gger that requires no con-

scious cont rol. A si ngle-subject multiple basel ine across subj ects design was deemed

t he most appropriate met hod t o study the effects of t he int erventi on because it

al lowed t he analysi s of an int erventi on t hat cannot be wi thdrawn or “t urned off”

(Hrycai ko & Marti n, 1996). Based on t he recommendat ions of Woll man (1986)

and other researchers who have uti lized single-subject designs (e.g. , Lerner, Ostrow,

Yura, & Et zel, 1996; Smit h, 1988; Swain & Jones, 1995), t he present st udy al so

appli ed a procedure that monit ored both fl ow states and t he internal experi ence of

each player.



The parti ci pants were fi ve male gol fers age 21 years. The golfers had handi-

caps rangi ng from 24 to 11. Each pl ayer had at l east four years of pl aying experi-

ence. The fi ve parti ci pants were careful ly selected for t he st udy because they all

had previous experi ence of flow and had obtained performance l evel s greater t han

t heir handi caps indicat ed. Addi ti onall y, none of t he golfers had previous experi-

ence wi th hypnosi s t rai ni ng. Pri or t o t he st udy t he golfers were informed of t he

nat ure and ext ent of the i nvesti gat ion, and all agreed t o part icipat e. T he gol fers

al so agreed not t o practi ce or part ici pat e in competi ti ve gol f throughout the dura-

t ion of t he st udy.

Experi mental Desi gn

A si ngl e-subj ect mul ti ple basel ine across i ndi vi duals design was i mplement ed

t o examine the effects of a hypnosi s i nt ervent ion on flow st at es and golf putt ing

performance. Thi s type of design al lows subject s to serve as thei r own source of

cont rol for t he experiment (Barl ow & Hersen, 1984; Hrycai ko & Mart in, 1996).

Thi s format was al so most appropri at e because i t faci li tat es t he analysis of t he

effects of an int erventi on t hat coul d not by i ts very nature be wi thdrawn from t he



part ici pants due t o t he use of natural tri gger cont rol techni ques (Barlow & Hersen,


The desi gn requi red t he observat i on of baseli ne performance and t reat ment

phase for each of t he parti ci pant s wit h t he lengt h of pre-i nt ervent ion baseli ne in-

creasi ng for each succeedi ng pl ayer used in t he anal ysis. The interventi on was

i nt roduced when a stabl e basel ine or a t rend in the opposi te direct ion of t he change

ant icipat ed became apparent for each of t he parti ci pants. A sequenti al appli cat ion

of the treatment was appl ied unt il al l part icipant s received the i ntervent ion.

Dependent V ariables

Golf put t ing. Golf putt ing was select ed as a cri teri on t ask because participants

were famil iar wi th the t echni que and i t reflect ed an i mportant component of their

performance. T he putt ing task was adapt ed from Bout cher and Zi nsser (1990) and

i nvolved put ti ng a golf ball on a carpet t o a target hole 11.5 cm diamet er. The data

col lect ion consi sted of 11 tri al s wi th each t ri al requi ri ng the compl et ion of 10 putts

from a di stance of 4 met ers. Al l tri al s were init iated when the golfers had att empt ed

20 pract ice put ts at t he target to famil iarize t hemselves wi th the speed, pace, and

condit ion of t he carpet . The accuracy of each att empt was cal culated by measuring

t he di st ance between the put ted bal l and t he cent er of the t arget hol e. For each t ri al

putt ing performance was measured by calculat ing t he average radial error score

for t he 10 put ts.

Fl ow anal ysi s. In addi ti on to the performance dat a, i nformati on on the i nt ensi ty

of flow experienced by t he part icipant s was assessed usi ng the Flow State Scale

(FSS) questi onnaire devel oped by Jackson and Marsh (1996). T hi s 36-i tem inst ru-

ment provides a quant it at ive measure of the nine dimensions of fl ow out li ned by

Csikszentmihal yi (1990). The i nternal consistency esti mate for the ni ne FSS scale s

was (alpha M = .83). For t he purpose of this i nvest igat ion a si ngl e global FSS

score was calcul at ed for each of t he fi ve part icipant s aft er each of the 11 tri als. T he

FSS scores were col lect ed i n order t o determine to what ext ent the participants

experi enced a st at e of fl ow duri ng each t rial. A gl obal measure of fl ow was pre-

ferred in this i nvesti gati on because of Jackson’s (1999) cont enti on that single fac-

t or approaches tend t o reveal i ncomplete informati on about the total fl ow experi-


Treat ment : The Hypnosi s Int erventi on

The t rai ni ng of the part icipant s in hypnosis t ook pl ace i mmedi at el y after t he

compl et ion of the fi rst baseli ne and was di vided int o t wo st ages. The first author,

who had successful l y compl eted ext ensi ve t raini ng in a vari et y of hypnosis tech-

niques, deli vered the i nt ervent ion.

In t he fi rst stage of the i nt erventi on parti ci pants were encouraged t o si t in a

comfortable posit ion and then were asked t o focus on t hei r breat hing. S peci fi call y,

t hey were i nstruct ed t o breat he deepl y and to rel ease air slowly whi le count ing

backwards from t he number 10. They were then given a 15-mi n sessi on involving


progressive muscul ar rel axat ion (PMR). T he t echni que ori ginal ly pi oneered by

Jacobson (1938), i nvol ved the golfers t ensi ng and relaxi ng part s of t hei r body,

whil e deepl y i nhali ng. S uggest ions aski ng the part icipant s to cont rast the differ-

ences between the t ense and the rel axed muscl es were given al ong wit h i nstruc-

t ions to di rect their at tenti on t o images of sit uat ions that were associ at ed wi th

rel axat ion. For example, t he external image of a warm comfort able beach, or t he

i nt ernal sensati on of fl oat ing i n wat er. An Eri cksoni an hypnosis techni que known

as a staircase i nduction (Hammond, 1990) was t hen appli ed. The stai rcase induc-

t ion consi sted of a j ourney, one st ep at a t i me, down a fl ight of 20 stairs. As t he

part ici pants took t he j ourney they were t ol d to see each st ai r i n front of them and

feel t he stai r under thei r feet. At the bot tom of t he st ai rs they were told t hey would

see a door, and beyond t he door they would see a room wi th a comfort able chai r.

The parti ci pants were then asked to si t down in t he chair and focus on a small

ci nema screen on whi ch appeared a rel axi ng scene. Throughout this st age sugges-

t ions were gi ven to rei nforce bot h the experience of the PMR, the deep breat hing,

and imagery techniques.

In the second stage suggest ions were given to hel p t he parti ci pants regress, and

remember a mul ti-sensory experience of their best competi ti ve performance. Spe-

ci fical ly they were asked to include visual , audi tory, tacti le, olfact ory, gustatory,

and memory of t heir best performance from an i nternal perspect ive. Thei r best

performance was then condit ioned to be rel eased by a nat ural t rigger. The t rigger

used was t he gri p of t he gol f putt er. T he part icipant s were then t ol d t o see t hem-

selves risi ng from t he chai r and proceed out of t he door and up the st aircase. They

were al so t ol d as they ascended the staircase that t hey woul d feel refreshed and

al ert . Once t he participant s re-accli mati zed to the envi ronment they were asked to

access thei r i deal performance state by ut il izing t heir tri ggers. T rai ni ng was con-

si dered complete when the parti ci pants fel t that an experi ence of thei r best perfor-

mance was under tri gger control.

Intervent ion Procedur e

The hypnosi s i ntervent ion was admi ni stered t o t he fi ve parti ci pant s in a small ,

quiet and comfortabl e room on t he coll ege campus and l ast ed approxi mat el y 40

mi n. The training was composed of t hree stages: St age1-hypnoti c induct ion, Stage

2-hypnot i c regressi on, and Stage-3 t ri gger cont rol.

After t he trai ning, parti ci pant s were asked to commi t t hemselves t o practi ce t he

t echni ques, by pl ayi ng a 40 min audiotape recording of t he l ive session, every day,

over a seven-day i nt erval between the fi rst baseli ne and int erventi on phase of t he

st udy. In total, the pl ayers were gi ven one li ve session, and seven audi ot ape ses-

si ons before the i ntervent ion phase. T o ensure part icipant s had li stened t o t he au-

dio tape recording, t he pl ayers were contact ed dai ly and asked t o l i sten t o t he

audiot ape in a qui et room in t he presence of an experimenter. T he quali ty of t he

part ici pants’ experi ence was assessed by examini ng t he thought s, feeli ngs, and

cognit ions i mmediat el y aft er each sessi on. Finall y, i t should be not ed t hat during

the i ntervent ion st age the players were not under hypnosis, inst ead they were merely



using t he t ri gger that was condit ioned t o t he emoti ons, feeli ngs, and cognit ions

t hey experi enced during thei r i deal performance.

Procedural Rel iabil it y Assessmen t

To ensure t hat part ici pants recei ved the same informat ion t hroughout the st udy

a number of strat egies were employed. For inst ance, some of the sessi ons, i ncl ud-

i ng a famili ari zat ion session prior to the first data col lect ion, were conduct ed i n a

group. The sessi ons were deli vered i n a standardi zed protocol (see appendi x A).

Veri ficati on that al l aspects of t he standardized prot ocol were consist entl y appli ed

was obtai ned from an observer.

The int ernal experience of each pl ayer was monit ored by asking each part ici-

pant t o complete a questi onnai re (see appendix B) aft er each testi ng t ri al . T his

i nformat ion permi tt ed on-goi ng assessment of the qual it y of the parti cipant s’ feel-

i ngs, t houghts, and cogni ti ons across the baseli ne and treatment sessi ons. T he data

was analyzed by compari ng t he comment s obt ai ned i n t he baseli ne sessi ons t o t he

comment s obtained during t he intervent ion phase of the experiment.

Treat ment of Data

The performance scores obt ained from t he part icipant s were pl ott ed according

t o the accuracy of t heir at tempts. Vi a vi sual i nspect ion of t he data t he researcher s

used the foll owi ng cri teri a to est abli sh t he occurrence of an experi ment al effect:

(a) when basel ine performance was st able or in t he di rect ion opposit e t o t hat pre-

dicted for the effect s of t reat ment , (b) t he greater the number of t imes t hat an effect

was repli cat ed both wi thin and across subj ects, (c) the fewer t he number of over-

l appi ng dat a point s bet ween baseli ne and treatment phases, (d) the sooner the ef-

fect occurs fol lowing t he int roducti on of t he treat ment , and (e) t he larger the size

of the effect i n compari son to baseli ne (Hrycai ko & Mart in, 1996).

Practi cal Assessmen t

In order to provi de i nformati on about t he effecti veness of the int erventi on, each

of t he parti ci pants completed a practi cal assessment quest ionnaire adapt ed from

Kazdin, (1992) and Kendal l, Hrycai ko, Marti n, and Kendall (1990). T he part ici-

pant s were asked t he fol lowing questi ons: How di d you feel during t he perfor-

mance? What were you thi nki ng duri ng t he performance? Were t here any out-

si de thought s di stract ing you? Did you experi ence any probl ems? Were you sati s-

fi ed wi t h t he r esul t s fol l o wi ng t h e i nt ervent i on ? Were t h e p rocedur es accep-

t able to you? What was the effect of the interventi on? What were your general

bel iefs about your performance? How much effort did you put i nt o t oday’s perfor-


Foll owing the compl et i on of t he study, the part icipant s were given a soci al

val idat ion questi onnaire. The quest ionnaire was desi gned t o provi de i nformat ion

concerni ng t he importance of the st udy and t he effecti veness of the i nt ervent ion.

Specifi cal ly, t he part icipant s were asked t he fol lowing quest ions: (a) Did you per-


ceive t he put ti ng t ask to be import ant? (b) Were t he procedures of t he study ac-

ceptabl e? (c) Are you sati sfied wit h t he resul ts? (See Hrycai ko & Marti n, 1996.)


Upon receivi ng the int erventi on Part icipants 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 experienced an

immedi ate performance effect with no overlapping dat a point s between the basel ine

and the intervent ion phase. Speci fical ly, Part icipant 1 i mproved from a mean of

28cm duri ng the fi rst basel ine t o a mean of 12cm duri ng the i nt erventi on phase ,

Part icipant 2 from 25cm t o 17cm, Parti ci pant 3 from 28cm to 17cm, Parti cipant 4

from 24cm t o 18cm, and Part icipant 5 from 26cm to 19cm. The performance data

for each parti ci pant i s present ed i n Figure 1. T he resul ts suggest t hat t he hypnosis

i nt erventi on consist entl y improved gol f putt ing performance accuracy.

During t he i nt erventi on Parti ci pants 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 also experi enced an i mme-

diate fl ow effect wit h no overlappi ng dat a point s between the basel ine and t he

i nt erventi on phase. Specifical ly, Part icipant 1 i mproved from a mean flow score

of 114 during t he baseli ne to a mean of 155 during the i nt ervent ion, Part ici pant 2

from 110 t o 136, Part ici pant 3 from 131 to148, P arti ci pant 4 from 114 to 138, and

Part icipant 5 from 134 t o 172. The fl ow data for each parti ci pant is presented in

Fi gure 2. The resul ts suggest t hat t he hypnosis i nt ervent ion consi st entl y i ncreased

t he int ensi ty of each part icipant’s experience of fl ow.

Practi cal Assessment Data

Upon complet ing the study, each of the parti cipant s was asked to respond t o a

pract ical assessment questi onnai re. Al l part icipants i ndi cated t hat during the i nt er-

venti on phase t hey had fel t more relaxed, confi dent, and focused when compared

t o the basel ine phase. Addit ional ly, Parti ci pants 2, 3, and 5 indicat ed t hey had

experi enced reduced concerns about performi ng and more cont rol over their put-

t ing st roke. Fi nal ly, al l part icipant s reported t hat they were sat isfi ed wi th the re-

sult s of the int erventi on and recogni zed that it had improved t here put ti ng perfor-



The present study exami ned the effect s of a hypnosis interventi on consi sti ng of

a hypnot ic i nducti on, hypnot ic regressi on, and t rigger control t echni ques on put-

t ing performance and fl ow st at es in competi ti ve gol fers. The resul ts i ndi cat ed that

t he dependent vari abl es were posit ivel y influenced by the hypnosi s int erventi on.

Addit ional ly, al l t he gol fers reported that during t he i ntervent ion phase t hey had

fel t more relaxed, confi dent and focused. T hree of the gol fers al so reported expe-

riencing reduced concerns about performi ng and fel t they had more cont rol over

t heir put ti ng stroke.

The resul ts are clearl y relevant t o sport psychology practi ti oners because t hey

suggest hypnot ic training may i ncrease personal control over flow and t he perfor-























Participant 5

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11


Figure 1. Performance accuracy for each p articipant on each trial .

Participant 1






1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Participant 2

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Participant 3

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Participant 4

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11








1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Participant 1







1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Participant 2







1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Participant 3







1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Participant 4







1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Participant 5

Figure 2. Flow scores for each participant on each trial .




mance of fine mot or ski ll s. Thi s fi ndi ng supports the work of Unest ahl (1983,

1986) who expl ici tl y indicated t hat hi gh l evel s of performance and posi ti ve emo-

t ions li ke fl ow states could be init iated through hypnoti c regression and t rigger

control t echni ques. The resul ts al so support t he work of Pates et al . (in press) who

found hypnosi s to be a hi ghl y effect i ve tool for i mprovi ng basketball shoot ing

performances and cont rol li ng cognit ions normall y associated wi th flow states in

competit ive athletes.

Anot her i mport ant aspect of thi s st udy was t hat t he si ngle-subj ect mult i ple

baseli ne across subj ects design enabled the experi ment ers t o be more confi dent

t hat t he change in fl ow and performance scores were produced by the i ntervent ion

and not an uncontroll ed vari able. A favorable soci al vali dat ion assessment and t he

quali tati ve informat ion provi ded further support for the int erventi on effect. How-

ever, i t shoul d be noted t hat Jackson (1999) questi oned bot h t he uses of ret rospec-

t ive self-report s as a measure of fl ow and t he reduct ion of subject ive experi ences

int o quant ifi able t erms. Gat heri ng informati on using a mul ti -method approach may

yield a more accurat e understandi ng of flow experi enced by gol fers and shoul d be

adopted in fut ure research studies.

There also remai ns a possi bil ity t hat t he improvement s in bot h performance

and flow scores are an arti fact of subject and experi ment er bias. Indeed, in t his

st udy, neit her t he subject s nor t he experi ment er were bl ind t o the out come of t he

experi ment , and clearly t herefore i t coul d be argued t hat experimenter expect a-

t ions or t he demand charact eri st ics of the experiment woul d affect t he resul ts.

There al so remains an issue of a possible Hawt horne effect . T hi s effect refers t o a

part ici pant’s change i n performance that occurs merely as a functi on of bei ng in

an i nvesti gati on (Drew, 1976). T he scrut iny t hat performers recei ve as a funct ion

of bei ng in a single-subj ect experimental design would seem t o also heighten t his

potent ial probl em. However, as Drew (1976) observed, the effect t ends to decli ne

as the subj ects become accli mati zed. Hence the extended lengt h of t he present

si ngl e-subject study could be a fact or that helped to control this effect.

In summary, the resul ts of t his st udy suggest that an i ntervent ion consi st ing of

hypnoti c induct ion, hypnot ic regression, and t ri ggers appeared to enhance flow

and gol f put ti ng performance i n high handicap gol fers. This st udy also seems to

provi de evi dence that hypnosi s effects emot ions, thoughts, and percept ions. How-

ever, i f hypnosi s i ntervent ions are to be accepted by the sport sci ence communit y,

furt her investi gati ons are required. Speci fical ly, t he effects of hypnosis upon low

handicap gol fers and eli te performers need expl orati on. It is also recognized that

more ecologicall y vali d tasks and group-based designs will contribut e to t he knowl-

edge base i n t hi s field.


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Signatureofobserver: Date:


Performprogressivemusclerelaxation ________

Performmental imageryrelaxation ________

Performstaircasehypnosisinduction ________

Performhypnoticregressiontechnique ________

Conditiontriggertoaflowexperience ________

Haveparticipantsaccesstheirideal performancestate

utilizingthetrigger ________

HaveparticipantscompleteFlowStateScalequestionnaire ________

Toreinforcetraininggiveparticipantsanaudiotape ________


General comments:

Contact participantsdailytocheckthat theyhaveplayed

theaudiotaperecordingofthetraining. ________

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Name: Date:

1. Howdidyoufeelduringtheperformance?

2. What wereyouthinkingduringtheperformance?

3. Werethereanyoutsidethoughtsdistractingyou?

4. Didyouexperienceanyproblems?

5. Wereyousatisfiedwiththeresultsfollowingtheintervention?

6. Weretheproceduresacceptabletoyou?

7. What wastheeffect oftheintervention?

8. What wereyourgeneral beliefsabout yourperformance?

9. Howmucheffortdidyouput intotoday’sperformance?


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Noeffortatall Wentallout

Checkthat theaudiotapeshavebeenretrievedbeforethe

beginningofthesecondbaseline. ________

Askifthereareanyquestions ________

Copyquestionsdownandanswerthem ________

Checkunderstandingwithparticipants ________