Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Ah bin hip-mo-tized

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I think I’ve found a technique to keep my 5- and 6-year-old T-ball team under control.

From the Wichita Eagle:

After the St. John High School boys team had won the state basketball championship two years ago and was runner-up last year, the team went just 7-6 through last week.

So the coach tried something different: hypnotism.

Most team members underwent two 45-minute sessions last week to increase their concentration and focus. It’s not clear what happened during the sessions; the therapist who led them wouldn’t say, and the coach did not return phone calls.

Monday night, the school board voted to stop the sessions.

“It won’t be going on any more at school,” said superintendent James Kenworthy. “If parents want their child to do that, they can contact the licensed therapist on their own.”

Hypnotizing students perhaps sends the wrong message to students and surrounding schools, said Kenworthy, who has requested a transcript of the sessions.

“At the high school level, it’s not appropriate. We are trying to get kids to understand who they are and what they are. It may give kids a mixed message if you can’t do it on your own.”

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In that case, I presume Mr. Kenworthy is also fervently against team prayers and good-luck charms. For what it’s worth, this was the work of one of Jesus’ hypnotizers:

Coach Clint Kinnamon had sought the help of Carl Feril, a Church of Christ minister who is also a clinical family and marriage therapist.

Feril would not discuss what happened during the team’s sessions, saying his was a privileged therapist/client relationship.

Apparently the players really dug hypnosis. Or maybe it was suggested to them during hypnosis that when they snap out of it, they will say they liked hypnosis.

School board member and parent Mitch Minnis gave his permission.

“My son says, ‘Dad, it’s pretty cool. It’s hypnotism!’ We saw it as more of helping the kids with focus and concentration,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of the boys bought into it.”

Minnis said the letter said that the hypnosis wasn’t mandatory, so he wasn’t concerned.

“If they were blindfolding kids and making them walk off the south pier of town, I might be concerned,” Minnis said. “But I think this is a novel approach and it might even help them do good in school work if they know what buttons to push to concentrate.”

At least one parent had concerns.

“We just asked our son not to participate and we didn’t sign the paper,” said Merlin Spare, a St. John school board member and parent. He is also track and cross country coach in nearby Stafford.

“I am a coach myself and I try to teach kids to be visionary and believe in what they are doing,” Spare said. “I think a person who is solid on their feet doesn’t have to do this. I think it is something a person could rely on and become hooked to.”

The Betty Ford Center is filled with hypnosis addicts. It’s scary to see, people who can’t walk by a timepiece hanging off a chain without stopping to stare at it.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association has strict rules about what players can and cannot do. But hypnosis isn’t mentioned in the rules.

“We have rules… about performance-enhancing substances — the clause of anabolic steroids… issues with drugs, alcohol and tobacco. I guess we have not encountered the question. It’s just never come up,” said Gary Musselman, executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association Musselman.

Scott Ward, a sports psychologist with the University of Kansas, said hypnosis is not believed to be that effective in sports.

That’s because every time the St. John coach says “full-court press,” his players uncontrollably squawk like chickens.

For what it’s worth, St. John won its first post-hypnosis game. So to paraphrase Crash Davis, if you think you’re winning because of hypnosis, then you are. I would recommend another round — but watch out for anyone who shows signs of addiction, like picking up cafeteria spoons and expecting them to bend on their own.

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