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Learning to Set Anchors

January 21, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 133


Anchors exist all around you. Have you ever come across an old photograph which created a pang of nostalgia? Heard an old song which was popular during a special time of your life? Smelt a particular aroma that brought memories rushing back? Do you frequently visit a location and always sit at the same place? Have you ever held a new born baby and noticed how your emotional state changed.

All these associations trigger memories that take us back to a past experience. They are called anchors as they 'anchor' you to a certain state. The clever thing is you can use these anchors to bring back the whole experience.

The theory behind using what is known as a 'resource anchor' is if you constantly link the emotion or mood you desire to be in, with a meaningful feeling, picture, sound or even a taste or smell, you can reproduce that desired mood or emotion when you need it.

The process to set up a resource anchor only takes a few minutes. Read the routine a couple of times to get it clear in your mind. Now, think of a resourceful state you would like too have. Only choose one resourceful state at a time. Here are the points:

Create a physical signal which you are going to use. What you read in many NLP books is touch your thumb and forefinger together, but it can be anything you think is appropriate. Patting down your hair, scratching an imaginary itch, clasping your hands, rubbing a wrist, crossing your fingers. These are all examples of physical signals, however, saying a certain mantra or phrase may do the trick for some people, or looking at an object regularly. Its up to you.

Now, vividly think of a time when you had the ability or emotion you want to repeat. Rewind the clock and add as much detail as you can, remember what you saw, hear what you heard, feel how you felt then. Now, see, hear, feel all of it even more fully, experience it more intensely. Let it all come back to you, let it build up so you relive it in your whole body. If you cannot remember a time, imagine how you would feel if you had that confidence, success or joy. Maybe you have not experienced the resource in a tennis context before, that's OK, think of any time it has happened and use that.

As the good, remembered experience returns and begins to build to a 'peak' fire your physical signal. Sink into the feeling of being there. Again, make it brighter, richer, turn up the volume. The peak, when you are in the right state, generally lasts between five and fifteen seconds on average for most, but some individuals could be as short as two seconds and others almost a minute.

Now break state by doing something like remembering an unrelated topic which in NLP jargon is called breaking state. Something like remembering a friends telephone number, saying your name backward, or reciting a nursery rhyme. This is a distraction so when you repeat this technique, its like doing it afresh.

Now repeat four or five times, breaking state between each. Some people can bring in different, positive memories, rather than doing the same one. When you decide the resourceful anchor is functional, break state for the last time.

Test to see if the anchor works. Break state by thinking of something else. Then fire your anchor. You should get back into the resourceful state. If not, apply the stimulus several times more and re-test.

There is usually a couple of things going on if you are having trouble. Make sure you are actually re-living the whole event rather than just thinking about it. You must feel the positive emotion, after all, emotions are energy in action. Have one specific resource or event in mind rather then getting confused juggling several. Do you understand the process fully? If not, go over it again.

Anchors get better. Whenever you are experiencing that resource in your normal life, anchor it with the same stimulus you devised so you are 'topping up.'

The great thing about using anchors is they work automatically. Think about a forthcoming event when you, or a player you coach, is feeling anxious and you want to look forward to the match. You can create any resourceful feeling or emotion - concentration, confidence, excitement or calmness. Imagine everything going perfectly. Picture it in your mind, seeing, hearing, feeling yourself in this good state at that future time. Now fire your anchor.

You can create very resourceful states for yourself or your players. If working with someone, its ideal for you to also be in the same resourceful state as your player. If any states or emotions your player wants to be in appear to contradict, like being motivated but relaxed, ask the player if they can be in both states at the same time. If they believe they can, all well and good. If not, its best to create two different anchors, one for motivation and another for relaxation which you apply separately.

You understand how you can become 'anchored' to certain states? Unfortunately you may even have created un-resourceful states for yourself in the past. What about playing at a venue which has negative associations for you? Or against a player who has had the better of you in the past and makes you feel negative and powerless? We all have negative anchors, but the good news is they can be disconnected by a process called 'collapsing anchors.'

Ensure you understand the method fully and you feel comfortable with it. Unless you are a coach applying this with one of your players, its best to have someone go through this process with you as you may need help to fix the anchors in place. Agree fully that the negative state is to be collapsed and decide what resourceful state is going to replace it. Make sure you are replacing a negative state with a very strong, positive one.

Decide where on your body you are going to apply the resource and remove the negative state from. To keep things simple, you would apply the resource stimuli to one side of your body, be it right knuckles, right shoulder, right knee and remove the negative state from the opposite left knuckle, left shoulder or left knee.

Remember, if working with a player, have them fully relive the event intensely and as the good feeling 'peaks' they should give you a pre-arranged signal, a nod of the head for example, so you can then anchor the positive resource in position at the right time.

On a scale of 0 - 10, how do you or they feel about the situation? 0 being no feeling at all and 10 being extremely stressful.

Now, access fully a positive state or memory that you/they have experienced. Lets go for 'competent' and anchor that kinaesthetically somewhere, we will say the right knee. Repeat this several times, breaking state each time. Then test to ensure the anchor works.

Break state by thinking of something else. This is important.

Now, fully remember an unwanted state or memory, for example lets say 'apprehensive.' Re-live it and when you feel the emotion, anchor it kinaesthetically somewhere on your body, say for example, your left knee. Do this once.

Here's the good part. Fire both anchors simultaneously. Continue holding the positive anchor (right knee) for about five seconds while releasing the negative (left knee). As long as the resourceful states anchor is stronger than the undesired states, the undesired anchor will collapse and the un-resourceful state will no longer affect you. If you picked a strong, negative memory, you may need more resources to make the situation more satisfying.

Test by asking yourself or your player how they now feel about the issue on a scale of 0 - 10?

Future pace by imagining some time in the future when you/they would confront that issue again and notice the response. If the problem has gone, continue imagining the old problem at a number of future events weeks, months or even a year into the future until you are certain the problem has gone.

Practice anchoring to place yourself into more resourceful states. Do it when you are in different environments. Go to different locations and practice getting yourself into positive moods. You can look back with satisfaction to see how much further you have developed.

The above article is taken from the eBook, Tennis Mind by Paul M Maher PhD. This can be purchased as a download from

Paul M. Maher invites you to learn more about sports psychology and to maximise your sports potential by visiting You will gain access to invaluable eBooks, regardless of which sport you play. The latest are focused on cricket psychology, soccer, tennis and bodybuilding psychology.

Source: EzineArticles
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