By now, everyone knows how insanely hard elite athletes train and how disciplined they are with nutrition. And as important as these elements are, they pale in comparison to the importance of a proper mindset. The right mental outlook can often mean the difference between success and failure, between winning and losing. Athletes and coaches are always looking for techniques and strategies to develop a mental edge over their competition. One of the most tried and true techniques – and the one I’d like to share with you today – is visualization. Here’s why this tool can be a game changer for you:
WHY YOU SHOULD VISUALIZE
Visualization is a scientifically proven technique used to enhance focus, mentally rehearse positive behaviors, and increase performance when it matters most. Used by countless elite performers across the entire spectrum of athletics, visualization involves creating mental images. These images are relevant to the athletic activity and allow an individual to mentally experience positive, successful, winning outcomes.
Through numerous clinical studies, research has validated what athletes and many of the world’s most successful people have long known: visualization really works. Big time!
A scientific paper published in the Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity reviewed research on the relationship between imagery and sport performance. Results indicated that imagery or visualization can improve performance in strength, muscular endurance and athletic skills (i.e. golf putting, making a three-point shot etc.).
HOW TO GET STARTED
- Start by sitting in a comfortable chair with your eyes closed. Imagine yourself in the environment of your respective sport, prior to a major competition. Create as much detail as possible – this includes your clothing, the teammates and/or coaches you are with, the fans in the stands, the announcer’s voice etc. The more detail, the better. Re-create the feeling you have just prior to the start of the competition – notice your hands, your heartbeat, your breathing.
- Visualize competing at the highest level in your sport, in as much detail as possible. Imagine yourself making the crucial shot, getting the first callout on stage, setting up your teammates for the winning goal, or crossing the finish line in first place. Focus on your mechanics – foot placement, the barbell on your back, the position of your elbow when taking the free throw etc. – and executing to perfection. Spend several minutes creating these images in your mind.
- Finish by creating imagery of the feeling you had during your most significant athletic accomplishments. Feel the satisfaction, the sense of achievement, and the reward of all your hard work. Take as much time as you need throughout this three-step process – nothing should be forced or rushed.
WHO USES VISUALIZATION?
The absolute best of the best use visualization for peak performance. Quotes from the following legends – widely regarded as the greatest of their time – capture the power of visualization and why you should use it:
“We taped a lot of pictures on the locker room door: Bobby Orr, Potvin, Beliveau, all holding the Stanley Cup. We’d stand back and look at them and envision ourselves doing it. I really believe if you visualize yourself doing something, you can make that image come true … I must have rehearsed it ten thousand times. And when it came true it was like an electric bolt went up my spine.”
Wayne Gretzky, Hockey God
“I had this fixed idea of growing a body like Reg Park’s. The model was there in my mind; I only had to grow enough to fill it. The more I focused in on this image and worked and grew, the more I saw it was real and possible for me to be like him. What you do is create a vision of who you want to be — and then live that picture as if it were already true.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilding champ, actor, entrepreneur, politician
Add this technique to your toolkit to increase your performance today!
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Team Strong Athlete