Friday, April 17, 2015

Mental Imagery: Helping Athletes Reach Excellence

Mental imagery is a concept that has been studied among major psychologists for many years. Mental imagery involves the athlete imagining themselves in an environment performing a particular sport and utilizing all of their senses. This cognitive form of imagery can be used to familiarize, motivate, refocus, reduce negative thoughts, and see success. In baseball, pitchers utilize mental imagery by picturing themselves on the mound, whether this is at home or at a visiting ballpark. They picture themselves succeeding against the other team by visually seeing the starting lineups and feeling the ball come out of their hands. As far as familiarizing the athlete is concerned, mental imagery can be used to recognize complex play patterns, competition size, or routine.

Mental imagery can also be used to motivate the athletes as well. The athletes are able to actively recall successful plays from the past or a play in which they successfully beat the competition. Mental imagery can also be used to increase intrinsic motivation as imagery treatment emphasizes athletes setting higher goals, more realistic expectations, and success in training programs.

Additionally, mental imagery can be used to refocus athletes as well. In baseball, imagery of previous past performance or success in an event or game will help athletes who may be feeling tired from a long week or exhausted from a tournament.

The technique of mental imagery can also greatly improve self-satisfaction and reduce negative thoughts. It can help athletes and, baseball players in particular, to focus on positive outcomes. As pitchers choose to focus more on the success they have had pitching, they eliminate negative thoughts and adverse speculation.

Finally mental imagery helps athletes to see success. The athlete, in this situation, is able to mentally visualize the arousal associated with performing. Imagery is used to imagine being in control and confident in one’s ability.

A few tips for utilizing mental imagery in baseball include:
  • Making the pitch seem as realistic as possible by including all senses
  • Believe that imagery works and that attitudes and expectations will increase your success
  • Don’t get discouraged it takes time to perfect a skill and improvement may take weeks or months before becoming observable.
  • Finally, observe pictures or videos prior to using imagery  


Keogh, R., & Pearson, J. (n.d.). Mental Imagery and Visual Working Memory. Retrieved

Cohn, P. (n.d.). My Top Three Uses of Mental Imagery for Athletes. Retrieved April 17,

Borst, G., & Kosslyn, S. (2008, June 1). Visual mental imagery and visual perception: 
Structural equivalence re. Retrieved April 17, 2015, from

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree. Mental imagery is a key to success if you can't see it in your mind first you more than likely will never see it in reality. When I ran track I would imagine myself running the race a hundred times before I actually ran it. Mental imagery helps athletes in all sports, but it can also help build skills for life.