Visualization is a mental training technique used by athletes to recreate external sporting events in the mind. It uses an athlete’s memory to reconstruct specific situations during sports in order to help correct errors and create desired outcomes. Relaxation techniques are used to assist the athlete in achieving the proper state of mind for visualization. This involves closing the eyes and breathing to calm both the mind and body. First, the athlete learns how to progressively reduce tension in each muscle group in the body in order to reach a deeper state of relaxation. The athlete is then asked to visualize (imagine) themselves before or during an event. They are also asked to identify any specific issues or concerns they would like to correct. Once corrections are made, the athlete mentally rehearses the event numerous times in order to create an image of desired performance outcome.
Imagery can be accomplished in a couple of different ways. The athlete can actually be performing the sport during a visualization session or be an observer of their performance. Either way, the athlete needs to develop the capability of producing vivid images of their performance. This often takes time and practice to accomplish. Also, the athlete needs to have a sense of control over the images in order to create a change in performance. Like training, visualization takes commitment and daily practice to be effective. Next month we will review a specific example of visualization.
*Mark Jagos LMSW, is a licensed clinical social worker, sports performance counselor, and personal consultant who has participated in numerous marathons and local races and counsels athletes in mental training for sports and exercise. To schedule an appointment please call 810-624-7631.