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Oklahoma State football: Why OSU hypnotizes its quarterbacks

Hypnotherapist Paige Wacker helped Brandon Weeden, other members of the team, turn positive thinking into positive results on the field.
By Gina Mizell Published: August 22, 2012

That's precisely why Wacker no longer introduces herself as a hypnotherapist. She calls herself a mental performance coach — one who “builds champions,” whether it's in athletics, the business world or any part of someone's personal life.

(Though, she can make you bark like a dog or sing like Barry Manilow, if you wanted.)

The idea is to tap into the subconscious, where emotions, beliefs and memories are created and stored. Hypnosis is a state of mind we drift into multiple times per day — right before we go to sleep and right before we wake up, and, to a lesser extent, when we're zoned in on a television show or book.

Once there, Wacker guides athletes, or anyone, to push the negative thoughts out and bring the positive ones to the forefront. To visualize the desired end result and backtracking through what will get them there.

That creates a “benevolent inner voice,” one that quickly gets over a mistake and is confident they have already won before entering the arena. That's when the game, as athletes and coaches like to say, “slows down.”

“Any athlete, any person, who has a goal in mind, I help them become so comfortable and so familiar with that goal that the achievement is inevitable,” Wacker said.

And Wacker says that once someone learns how to get into that state — by using the “Let go” trigger words — they can get there in an instant at any time.

Weeden said he immediately felt more relaxed after his first session and started channeling those techniques before — and during — practice and games. And he kept seeing Wacker even after he was no longer required to, partly because he's superstitious and partly because he felt it was working.

“I just envisioned good things happening before the snap,” he said. “That's half the battle in big-time college sports.”

Wacker has met with a handful of other football players 1-on-1, though she cannot disclose who because of HIPAA laws. But she has also done large group sessions and given out exercises on mp3s, which Glass said several players listen to on the bus or in the locker room.

And with several new playmakers, most notably true freshman quarterback Wes Lunt, expected to play a significant role for the Cowboys this season, Glass said Wacker's role will be important yet again.

Wacker said she is honored to be an unofficial, yet important, part of the OSU athletic department. And she has a simple hope for any of the athletes who have worked with her.

“That they achieve their goals,” she said. “That is my ultimate desire for everyone and that I be obsolete in the process. Because they know what they're doing. I teach you how to use your mind.”