EFT* helped Rens Blom become the world champion pole vaulter

door Jan Scholtes

* EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques™

Jan Lips, onze correspondent in Canada, maakte ons attent op een interessant Engelstalig artikel van ‘mental coach’ Jan Scholtes. Daarin beschrijft deze zijn ervaringen met polsstokhoogspringer Rens Blom, die in 2005 onder barre omstandigheden in Helsinki zo fraai de wereldtitel greep. Zouden huidige atleten er ook hun voordeel mee kunnen doen?

I have known this athlete, Rens Blom, for many years and we see each other several times a year. He learned his basic techniques about how to get the proper relaxation on the right moments and we knew the importance of his thoughts during his preparation and during the competition. After I learned about EFT we had a much stronger and effective tool to handle all this. 

Let me tell you what kind of things we did all the way to this success. 

We managed to find out his negative thoughts on important moments during his preparations and the competition.  I had him make a diary of his activities and thoughts during the preparation on the day of the competition. In this diary I read a lot of doubts about his condition, doubts about how to behave as a sportsman, doubts about which pole to use and doubts about things that could go wrong. These were not the thoughts of a champion who believed in himself. These were the thoughts of a boy who was doubting all day and was very easy influenced by things which happened around him. His thoughts were always sticking on the scenario of failure. 

I taught him the EFT tapping techniques, which he thought was pretty strange. We tapped on his doubts and things that always went wrong during important tournaments like ‘Even though I feel very doubtful and afraid of making the wrong decisions.’  

I asked him what would be his biggest problem about making the wrong decisions. After a moment of reflection, he looked at me and said. ‘I get anxious about the tone of the journalists and the critics when they comment on my way of jumping.’ 

Het glorieuze moment van Rens Blom

Foto: Mika Kanerva

When I asked him if this reminded him of criticism which he experienced before in his life, he remembered a trainer in his youth who very often had an authoritarian air which brought up feelings of resistance in him. On my question: ‘What’s bothering you so much about people who act like an authority’ Rens answered: ‘It’s often the tone of their voice that makes me feel guilty, as if I deserve punishment and I hate that.’ It also reminded him of his father, a disciplined man who had been a great sportsman too and who’s tone of voice had a lot of temper. ‘He’s a good-hearted man,’ Rens said. ‘And he supports me everywhere I go, but when I was younger, he could have been more helpful.’ 

After having said that, we tapped on issues like:

‘Even though the tone of my fathers voice is still in the back of my head...’ 

‘Even though he always wanted me to do the things his way………...’ 

‘Even though I have this problem with authority…………’  

He felt relieved after having brought those feelings to his consciousness and having done the tapping on these issues. 

During an important competition, at his third attempt on a certain height, he failed and showed a lot of frustration. ‘I gave 100% and I did my utmost,’ he tried to convince me. For some reason I didn’t share that opinion because I was there and sensed something else. I asked him to, very slowly, review the film of his thoughts during the time between his second jump and the start of his third effort. After about 20 seconds he glanced at me and said: ‘Shit, when I was sitting on the bench, I was preparing my excuse for the press.’ His game was already over. 

From that he learned how important it is to consistently scan his negative thoughts, to be mentally aware and to stay focused on the positive goal. 

There was also the issue of breaking out of his comfort zone. He hadn’t jumped a new personal record for two years and got frustrated about that. When I asked him if he had ever had a mental picture of seeing himself jumping to a new personal record, he remembered that he had tried but that those movies were always ending in a failure. 

I had him visualize a movie in which he would jump to his new personal record (about 5 cm more, to keep it realistic for him). That wasn’t that easy for him because he kept seeing himself failing at the jumps. I asked him if he could remember his best jump ever and how that felt. Of course, he could, sportsmen have those memories, same as they have strong memories about their failures. I asked him to use that positive kinesthetic feeling and that state of mind in his new movie and let him try again. He had more luck this time and I asked him to train this way mentally while being aware that it was on personal record level and use an EFT statement like. ‘Even though I feel perfect jumping over 5.80…’    

Rens always preferred nice weather during competition. That’s when he made his best jumps. In cold weather he always felt miserable, got the cramps and started complaining. 

During the last World Championships in Helsinki, Finland (2005), the weather was stormy, cold and it rained cats and dogs. A nice scenario for Rens to prove that always everything goes wrong during important tournaments. After the qualifications, during which it stormed enormously, we had contact by email. I read the email of an athlete who had learned how to handle these conditions. I didn’t read something about doubts, I read about his chances and determination to do his outmost. 

He was self supporting now and used statements like: 

‘Even though I hate bad weather I……….’ 

‘Even though I get distracted under these weather conditions………’ 

‘Even though I hate these conditions, I choose to accept them and handle them


During the finals he heard all his fellow competitors yell and curse about the bad weather condition and one after another they left the competition. He heard it all and it made him stronger in his determination to accept everything. His thoughts were: ‘OK guys, spoil your energy on the weather, I stay by myself, I accept this weather, I am a professional and I want to do my job.’  

To end this story....  

After Rens had become World Champion, the Russian Sergey Bubka, the big example for Rens and multi-champion vault jumper, gave him the biggest compliment he could get. He admired Rens for his courage and determination and that his strong character in those terrible weather conditions had made him a world champion.   

And I was at home in front of the TV, and saw it all happen. Who could have imagined this some years ago, this doubtful young man who possessed lots of videos of Sergey Bubka, receiving such a compliment from his hero. For me it was again proof that a lot is possible when the mind is free. 


Jan Scholtes: Mental coach, NLP master practitioner, EFT ADV Practitioner