Psyched Online

Emotional Freedom Technique

tapping_points1-2.jpgpresents an innovative approach with many athletic performance benefits and no negative side effects.

By Peter Guare

An athlete’s mental set is often the difference between success and failure. Mental imaging, affirmations, hypnosis and other techniques have been employed, often successfully, to reduce anxiety and encourage optimal sports performance. Recently a new technique has been added to the arsenal. Emotional Freedom Technique™, a system devised by Gary Craig, a Stanford engineer, uses tapping on acupressure meridians while focusing on key issues that might disrupt performance, to balance the body’s energy system and defuse these issues. The system, although somewhat strange by mainstream science standards, has a number of advantages. It is very fast. It has no side effects. It is painless. It is free. And it works. I have used it to eliminate an athlete’s cramps before a race, to break a basketball player out of a shooting slump in a pressure packed game, to improve the focus, flexibility and endurance of a prep school state championship pentathlon medalist (, and more. Rens Blom, the 2005 Men’s Pole Vault World Champion credits the technique with allowing him to overcome not only his doubts about himself but also the unfavorable weather conditions at the world championships that did in his opponents:

The system is very simple. First, you identify the problem that you want to deal with. It can be physical or mental. One of the ways I convince my clients of EFT’s effectiveness is to improve their flexibility without any stretching. The demonstration would go something like this. First I would have the clients close their eyes and twist their upper body to the left or right as far as they comfortably could without moving their feet. Then they would open their eyes to see how far they went. They would untwist, keeping their feet fixed. Next I would make the following statements and have the client repeat them while tapping with the pads of the index and middle fingers (either hand) on the appropriate locations. While tapping on the “Karate chop” point—the fleshy part of the hand below the little finger where one would strike a board to break it—I and the client would say “even though I have this tension in my back and legs, I love and accept myself completely.” We would do this three times. Then, while tapping about seven times on the following locations, we would say “tension in the back and legs.” The locations are:

  1. on the beginning of the eyebrow near the bridge of the nose
  2. on the cheekbone outside the eye
  3. on the bone below the eye
  4. between the nose and upper lip
  5. between the lower lip and chin
  6. inside the junction of the collarbone and the breastbone
  7. on the side about four fingers down from the armpit
  8. on the crown of the head

Where you have a choice you can use either right or left side.

Then the clients would repeat the twisting test. Almost invariably they can go farther, sometimes markedly so. Then we would move on to the problem at hand. First the client rates his subjective level of discomfort or concern on a 1-10 scale. We would then go through the same tapping procedure, substituting “my foul shooting is off” for “tension in the back and legs” for example. Then the client would take a breath and rate the issue again. If it is still present, but at a reduced level, we would repeat the procedure, substituting “remaining concern about my foul shooting” to reflect the change in perceived intensity. This is what is called “the Basic Recipe.” A skilled practitioner will frequently get more involved, perhaps alternating positive statements in the 8 point procedure, or refining the statements to concentrate on particular aspects of the problem, and there are extensions of the technique that are used when the Basic Recipe is not producing satisfactory results, but very frequently one or two rounds will have a decided effect. It is very important to BE SPECIFIC about the problem. With our pole vault world champion, we would treat the inclement weather separately from the self doubts. Frequently, a lack of success with the technique is due to being too general. With my foul shooting athlete, we went through both mechanical (my rotation is off) and mental (I get nervous when I have to shoot) aspects. Since the process is so quick, it’s better to be overly thorough than too general.

EFT is effective on a remarkable range of issues. I’ve used it for psychological trauma, food cravings, math anxiety, smoking cessation..the list is as long as my client roster. Give it a try and I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised. After all, there’s no charge and you can do it in a minute or two. What could be better than having an edge like this in your pocket at your next competition?

About Peter Guare

B.S. Psychology, Union College, 1974
Winner, John Lewis March Prize
Nominated to Membership in Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society
Awarded Fellowship to study Cognitive Psychology at the University of Connecticut, 1975-6

16 years as Head Coach in Track and Field at Scotia Glenville High School, 1987-2002
17 Team Sectional Champions, 10 Teams Runners Up
3 Teams finished #1 in scoring at the State Championships
Scotia Athletes won 10 individual and relay State Championships
4 Athletes finished Top Ten at the Indoor Track National Championships
4 other Athletes ranked #3 Nationally for 2003 in the Boys DMR
Scotia Athletes set Section II Records in Girls 2000m Steeplechase and Girls Pole Vault

Attended, by invitation, the first International Developmental USA Track and Field Sprint and Hurdle Camp (1998), Chaired by Brent McFarlane, Olympic Head Coach, Team Canada, Sydney 2000

Founded Human HyperFormance, 2003

Became certified in Optimal Breathing Development, 2004. One of six instructors worldwide to have trained at the third level.

Became level 2 certified in Meridian Flexibility, 2005

Earned status as EFT Advanced Practitioner, 2006