Blazer brain train
The Kamloops Blazers strolled out of the Rivers Room Lounge at Interior Savings Centre, light chatter echoing off the walls and windows, with flurries of snow falling outside on Mark Recchi Way.
They looked relaxed.
Colin Smith chose to stay behind and carry boxes for the woman who had left the Blazers in a reflective state — Isabelle Hamptonstone, a certified neuro-linguistic programmer and hypnotherapist who has been working with the team since last season.
“The mental-performance techniques that I use I can’t share with you right now but, essentially, in a nutshell, I was activating the part of their brain where they are the most personally powerful,” Hamptonstone told KTW minutes after the session — open only to players, with coaches and management left waiting in the office downstairs — came to an end.
With the Western Hockey League’s pressure-packed playoffs just around the corner, Hamptonstone, who goes by Izzy, was brought in to provide the players with a mental edge.
“It’s called hypnotherapy, I’m pretty sure,” Blazer forward Chase Souto said.
“She just basically uses your subconscious to make you think positive.”
Hamptonstone operates Brain Train International out of Kamloops and Sun Peaks, but works with athletes and professionals worldwide by phone and through Skype.
She told KTW the Blazers need to act out of faith, not fear, to better deal with the boiling cauldron of nerves they are sure to be dunked in come post-season puck drop.
“The problem with operating out of fear is that with any choice that you make in life, if you act out of fear, then you’re already on shady ground,” said Hamptonstone, a Welsh immigrant.
“You’re not operating from a place of quiet confidence and courage. From that place, all things are possible.
“When people can really see themselves as powerful, as they really are, then that in itself is a game changer.”
Smith, the Blue and Orange’s top scorer, has been working one-on-one with the team’s mental trainer since 2011.
He said Hamptonstone started by “easing” him into the different techniques she uses.
“It was just kind of natural,” Smith said. “I didn’t really question it and just kind of trusted it.
“Each session you try and identify one thing you want to try and improve and use different imagery and try and overcome certain obstacles.”
So, does it work?
“Yeah,” Smith said. “In everyday life, you wouldn’t think outside the box like that. You go in a room like that for an hour and you come out refreshed and open-minded.”
There is an element of mystery about Hamptonstone’s practices, but, judging by the testimonials on her website (btmvp.com) from athletes such as local World Cup skier Elli Terwiel, the wand Hamptonstone is waving might have the magic touch.
Blazer fans will be happy to read her diagnosis of the team’s mental state heading into Round 1 against the Victoria Royals.
“What I’m seeing is a team that is congruent, that is powerful and that is open to finding more ways to improve,” Hamptonstone said.
“I can’t ask for more.”