As Fall Sports Season Approaches, Claire Caines, LCSW Offers Help for Motivated High School and College Athletes to Use On and Off the Field


NEWTON, N.J.– As psychotherapist Claire Caines will tell you, even elite athletes can be challenged by a lack of confidence or become rattled during a game. But with championships and scholarships on the horizon, there’s no reason for student players to bench themselves if they have the right tools to compete at their best possible level.


Claire Caines, director of Caines Center For Psychotherapy, works with motivated high school and college athletes to help them boost their confidence, improve focus and concentration, and work through specific issues around their game through sports hypnosis and other techniques. She is a fellow of the National Board of Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists, with offices in Newton and Chatham and works with students ages 15 and up, from high school through college. Clients are typically from Morris, Sussex, Essex and Somerset counties but have also been from as far away as Bergen County.

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“Youth athletes who have a strong desire to excel do very well with sports hypnosis,” said Caines. “Through our work together, they come to understand that the mental aspect of sports is just as important as their mechanical skills, and learn to train their minds as well as their bodies. These student athletes are able to perform more consistently, with greater confidence through the hypnotherapy techniques we use in our sessions.”


Caines explained that the goal is not about achieving perfection but rather, recovering from mistakes more easily and removing the obstacles to doing their best; she does so through progressive muscle relaxation, guided visualizations, hypnosis and interactive mental exercises that the athletes then take with them to the field, court or track, with positive results. She works with athletes from football, soccer, basketball and baseball to track and field, and lacrosse.


“My goal is to provide tools that athletes can use to feel confident and on top of their game,” she said.


The most common issues Caines works on are:

  • Performance anxiety, lack of confidence – this often occurs during a rough streak or after being on the disabled list
  • Loss of focus during a game or match – often due to a confrontation with another player or a botched play
  • Problems relating to teammates – a feeling of being left out or not meshing well with the other players
  • Upset over the coach’s critiques or communication style – difficulty taking in constructive criticism or dealing with harsh communication
  • Fear of serious injury – often seen in students who have recovered from an injury and are getting ready to play again


Attaining peak performance

During sports hypnosis, Caines uses the athletes’ own words and body language to reinforce positive messages specific to their goals. For optimal results, she speaks with the coach and trainer to incorporate their suggestions for the individual athlete using sport-specific language.


The feelings and imagery associated with peak performance are used extensively in Caines’ work. During guided visualizations, the athletes access the state of being “in the zone” to achieve excellence; they learn to use these visualizations before, during or after a game or match.


“In every athlete’s experience of a peak performance there’s a sweet spot between tension and relaxation. If they become too tense, they freeze; if they’re too relaxed, they lose the focus that drives success. Through progressive muscle relaxation, the athlete learns the difference between tension and relaxation, enabling him or her to achieve that sweet spot again and again,” she explained.


For more information about how sports hypnosis can help student athletes achieve greater focus, enhanced confidence, and attain and maintain their peak, contact Claire Caines at or call (973) 300-0428.




About Claire Caines

Claire Caines, MSW, LCSW, LCADC, CSAT is a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist and director of Caines Center for Psychotherapy with offices in Newton and Chatham, N.J. She is a New Jersey licensed clinical social worker, and a fellow of the National Board of Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists. Through hypnosis and relaxation training, Claire helps people achieve focus and a high-performance state of mind to improve their quality of life. She works with student athletes to achieve excellence in sports by giving them the tools to boost their confidence, improve their focus and reduce anxiety.  Other professional credentials include certified sex addiction therapist, licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor, and mastery training in Neuro Linguistic Programming. For more information visit