Visualization for Athletic Success
Visualization, also known as mental rehearsal or mental imagery, is a technique in which we imagine ourselves in a specific situation performing a specific activity. You can use visualization in your everyday life to familiarize yourself with a situation before it actually happens. Visualization may also be a powerful motivation tool that helps you build your confidence.
You might use visualization or mental rehearsal to view yourself performing at a higher level. And this is exactly how visualization is used in sports psychology.
The techniques of visualization and mental rehearsal have been well researched and documented. Research has proved that visualization is an effective tool for athletes preparing for competitions.
Your brain is undeniably a powerful weapon. And it’s totally up to you whether you are going to use it to propel yourself toward success or failure.
How to use Visualization for Athletic Performance Enhancement
Visualization is most successful when it becomes a habit. This means that you need to practice mental imagery every day to get the full benefit.
Use mindful meditation to calm your body and your mind, and breathe deeply and rhythmically. Focus only on the present moment.
Once you’re totally relaxed:
Focus on proper techniques, performances, and skills you want to improve.
Mentally run through every single part of that skill or performance, imagining even the smallest details.
Focus on reactions and feelings you want to experience during your performance.
Repeat this mental imagery practice each day, before, during and after training.
Boost your Self-esteem
Use mindfulness to enhance your confidence. You will do this by taking deep breaths, then visualizing the fears that you might have about your performance. After that, imagine filling your body and mind with confidence through breathing. Visualize collecting your fears and trapping them inside a mental bubble. Then take a deep breath and pop that bubble. Imagine how it shrinks and disappears until it is completely gone.
Repeat this confidence-boosting exercise every time you feel anxious or worried about your performance, especially before competitions.
Use your Senses
Again, close your eyes, calm your breathing and your thoughts. With your ‘inner eyes’, watch, like in a movie, part by part of a skill or activity that you want to achieve.
For example, imagine that you want to score a goal on your next soccer game. Draw attention to every single detail in that activity. Imagine what the grass feels like under your feet, what sounds you make while running over the field, or how the sun is prickling the skin on your face.
Slow down this mental movie and observe every sequence of it. In the end, ‘play’ the moment when you score a goal, again, in all its details.
Create Pattern Breakers
If you focus on the failures instead on success or you have dysfunctional thoughts that interfere with your success, try using pattern-breaking techniques. This can be any word or a phrase you will repeat in your mind every time you feel anxiety is flooding you again. A pattern-breaker can also be a movement that you will perform when you feel stressed or anxious.
Visualize what you Want to Achieve
A good visualization will imprint pictures of success in your subconscious mind. The power of subconscious has been proved a long time ago. Accordingto the law of attraction, our thoughts act as a magnet that attracts opportunities and events. To put it simply – your life is a reflection of your thoughts. Using visualization, you are programming your subconscious mind to attract desired skills, performances and achievements.
A great way to use visualization in athletic success is through vision boards. Different studies have proved that visualization gives best results if applied through vision boards that focus on things that you want to achieve. But more importantly, they emphasize how you want to feel about your achievements.
To create a vision board, you need to identify and clarify the goals you want to achieve. Furthermore, you can add motivational phrases and describe how you want to feel about your goals. Develop strategies how to achieve goals and find pictures and/or quotes that illustrate your goals and inspire you. Place your vision board somewhere where you can see it and go over it at least twice a day, preferably before you go to sleep – this is the best way to stimulate your subconscious mind to create new strategies on how to achieve your goals.
If you learn how to visualize success, you will program your mind to move towards success.
Practice ensures Perfection
For most of the people, mental imagery is a skill that requires practice and gets developed over time. However, with continual practice, you can master your ability to visualize. The most important in learning visualization is consistency. Practicing visualization ten to fifteen minutes in the morning and in the evening every day will help you make a commitment to practice mental imagery daily.
With continual practice, you will gain better control of your visualization. By developing visualization, you will be able to focus on the feelings it creates in you. By creating powerful emotions, you will be able to create a powerful performance as well.
Interested in improving your game as an athlete? Our very own Kate Giordano specializes in helping athletes decrease anxiety and enhance performance. Call today to schedule your first appointment!
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