How hypnosis made Arthur Zanetti a better gymnast

The first Latin American Olympic gymnastics champion and his focus on mental side of competition

When Brazil’s Arthur Zanetti made history at London 2012 as the first Latin American to win Olympic gold in gymnastics, he had seen it before.

Well, in his mind’s eye that is.

"I did a lot of psychological work - it's not easy to withstand the pressure,” Zanetti said at the time. “I did a great deal to cope with the pressure.”

That pressure was a result of his impressive track record entering the 2012 Games. Zanetti was the 2011 world silver medallist, having come up just .200 shy of China’s Chen Yibing and the gold medal. At the time, Chen was the reigning Olympic champion on the event and had earned world titles on still rings in 2006, 2007 and 2010 (in addition to his 2011 win over Zanetti).

Zanetti has since revealed that his psychological preparation has included hypnotism.

Think less I’m getting very sleepy and more deep focus. His sessions involve him imagining the exact movements he hopes to put out on the competition floor. As impressive as his golden strength moves may be, perhaps more so is the strength of his mind.

"We use it a lot for new elements and for movements in which we have some kind of difficulty,” Zanetti explained to UOL. “You can imagine another athlete doing that movement or yourself and it repeats until everything is perfect."

An inspiration for others

Perfection is what the 29-year-old Brazilian has seemed to achieve in his mind boggling strength sequences. But beyond his own success, he hopes his triumphs can push others to reach their dreams.

“To give their best, but always for the love of the sport, because when we pursue our dreams, and we believe in them, there will be results in the long run,” Zanetti told Lima 2019 organisers when asked of his advice to the Peruvian delegation."

Peru has just one medal in gymnastics at the Pan Am Games – Richard Mazabel’s 1979 bronze medal on the vault.

“I’m an example of that, because I was very dedicated and had a lot of respect for my technical team.”

That dedication has paid off, to say the least.

In each of the last two Pan American Games, Zanetti has come away with two medals. In 2011, he took gold with his teammates and silver individually on the rings. The results were reversed at the 2015 edition in Toronto where he earned individual glory on the still rings once again but Brazil finished second to the U.S. men in the team competition. He also owns the 2013 world still rings title and three silvers on the event (2011, 2014, 2018).

In Lima, he will once again be a favourite for gold on his signature event.

“I’m finally ready for the Games, after several competitions and demanding trainings. I think the Brazilian team is at their best,” said Zanetti. “Even though we cannot guarantee a medal, we are going to fight to get to the most finals and also give our best performance to reach the highest place in the podium.”

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