Your images lead to reality. They always have, and they always will. With imagery, you can visualize a high-quality performance and coach your body to follow. Being able to picture yourself achieving your goals will help you realize them.
1. Mental Imagery
Mental imagery gives you a chance to deal effectively with a problem or event in your head before you confront it in real life. Your feelings will be “I’ve been here before.” “It’s not big surprise.” “There’s no reason to panic.” “I’ve prepared for this; I can handle it.”
Many athletes find it helpful to imagine and feel themselves performing skills perfectly immediately before competitive performances. Run through key offensive moves, quick transitions and great defensive moves. This process strengthens confidence by calling up the feeling of best performance and focuses full attention on the task at hand.
Mental imagery can also be valuable after a particular successful performance, when the performance is still fresh. It allows you to re-experience and hang on to successful aspects of the performance, which can help in preparing for your future best performances.
The world’s best athletes have extremely well-developed imagery skills. They use imagery daily to prepare themselves to get what they want out of training, to perfect skills within training sessions, to make technical corrections, to overcome obstacles, to imagine themselves succeeding in competition and to strengthen their beliefs in their capacity to achieve their ultimate goals.
As a general rule, you should get into a pattern of doing about 10 to 15 minutes of quality mental imagery every day. In addition to helping you perfect physical skills, imagery is a good focusing exercise. Take your time and move into it gradually.
As you become more skilled at feeling imagery, the sensations and emotions associated with great movements will surface more naturally when you imagine and perform your skills.
You can use mental imagery to learn new routines, plays or patterns, and to familiarize yourself with a particular competition site.
In your mind, if you can see yourself, hear yourself, and feel yourself respond the way you would prefer to respond, you will be better prepared to respond accordingly in the real world.
2. Executing the Strategy
The usual sequence is to begin with mental imagery. Then, practice the imagined skill or coping strategy in a real-world training situation, followed by a simulated situation, and finally the event itself.
If you can imagine the passion and focus you want to bring to today’s practice and feel the perfect execution of important skills before you do them in training and competition, this will help you to:
– Focus on what you want to do.
– Remind you of what you need to focus on.
– Improve your imagery skills.
– Set the stage for an improved performance.