Friday, July 3, 2015

Visualization: The Ultimate Game Preparation

Visualization, also referred to as imagery, has been widely used by elite athletes as a part of their training for competition.  There are many stories of professional athletes using this learned skill to gain a competitive advantage, as well as generating a renewed mental awareness and a heightened sense of security and self-confidence.  Though it is not the most common form of practice, it’s evidence of affectability has been recorded for decades.
Generally speaking, visualization is the process of creating a mental image or intention of what you want to happen or feel.1 Similar to meditation, visualization is a mental rehearsal.  Athletes are to imagine themselves in various situations in their sport achieving the desired outcome such as a making a free throw in basketball or sinking a putt in golf. This repeated rehearsal trains the mind and body to use certain skills under pressure, or in a variety of possible situations. The imagination is a powerful tool and has a very real impact on physical activity. It creates new neuro-pathways in your brain in the same way as if you were actually performing the skill.2 Simply put, your muscles fire as if you are actually doing that physical activity. Repeatedly visualizing your success strengthens those pathways and contributes to actually attaining your goal.2 Such repetitive imagery creates both experience and confidence in a player’s capability to execute.
The more you practice visualization the better you get. While practicing visualization,  it is important to imagine yourself in first person.  Viewing yourself completing the task, as if you were watching a movie, will prevent it from being effective.  Imagine yourself through your own eyes.  Envision the event occurring using all of your senses.
  • Vision – What do you see? Notice the details. Lightness, darkness, indoors or outdoors2.
  • Smell – Where you are? How does it smell? Any familiar odors or scents? (fresh cut grass, sweat, oil on your equipment)2
  • Hearing – Do you hear any noises? Is there cheering, clapping, talking?2
  • Taste – Is there any taste or flavor involved? Do you feel quenched or thirst?2
  • Touch – How does your skin feel? (hot, clammy, wet) Any textures against your skin from your clothing. The feel of your equipment in your hand. Head gear you might have on?2
  • Sixth sense – Any feeling in your gut? Maybe a sense of knowing.2
Visualization is a powerful tool to help you reach peak performance.  Using this technique can dramatically increase your emotional intelligence in your sport and result in a more successful performance.

1Quinn, E. (n.d.). Positive Self Talk and Sports Performance. Retrieved June 29, 2015, from

2Winning Athletes Use Visualization. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2015, from

1 comment:

  1. I have always found visualization to be an interesting topic for sports. I really like how you broke down each sense and gave examples.