HOW DO IMAGERY AND VISUALIZATION IMPROVE ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE?

There is a famous story that, a soldier who was imprisoned during the Vietnam War. During this tenure, he maintained his senses and hit 18 holes of golf daily. In his imagination he walked on the same golf course daily, hypothesizing the sun behind him and wind moving across the golf course. Every day, he played a perfect game of golf.

At last, when he was released and came back to his home, he went to the same golf course that he imagined during his captivity. He played the best game of his life and scored 18 holes even though he hadn't touched the golf club for years.

This story is widely used to prove the power of visualization in sports. Many elite athletes and Olympians widely used visualization techniques during their training sessions and competitions. This technique has immense importance among players. However, if you are not familiar with this technique, then keep reading, because today, we will provide you all the information about imagery and visualization and; how they help to improve athlete's performance?

WHAT IS MEANT BY VISUALIZATION?

Visualization means the practice of imagining yourself doing particular tasks or actions that you want to do in actual life. You can also call it mind rehearsal of skills, specific game-day situations, or performing at the best of your abilities being under pressure. The concept is that if you keep on specific rehearse sport situations, exact actions, physical performance of those situations, your actual performance will improve.

Visualization is a general term. However, the preferred terminology used in competitive sports is "IMAGERY” which means the process of hypothetically picturing the whole athletic game from start to end, engaging all the senses rather than just concentrating on a specific goal or consequences.   

Athletes use these techniques to establish a high state of mental enthusiasm that aids in boosting confidence, overall wellbeing, and increasing the player's performance in his game. The best thing about imagery or visualization is that it can be practiced anytime, anywhere. You don't need a specific place to imagine your perfect match from start to finish.

According to the research, two factors play a crucial role in creating imagery or visualization. One is visual (what the player sees) whereas the other is kinesthetic (the body's experience while acting.) Many studies also show that mental imagery and visualization also enhance an athlete's motor skills during the competition and his potential to learn additional skills during training sessions.

Having enough information about the concepts of imagery or visualization, let's talk about the benefits of visualization in sports.

HOW DO IMAGERY AND VISUALIZATION IMPROVE ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE?

The phenomenon of visualization is that the team players practice new matches in their minds or sometimes match themselves against the opponents with whom they will play in the future. Owing to this, their brains already prepare to play well, so when they meet their opponents in an actual contest, they build reactions immediately.    

As far as solo players, for instance, runners, they imagine the whole racing track before they get there. Consequently, they feel well prepared and more enthusiastic on the day of the competition.

Many athletes have reported that visualization and imagery processes have helped them cope with symptoms of anxiety and nervousness before the competition. As they already have the whole scenario in their minds, before the tournament starts, they don't feel tense on the ultimate day, and this helps them play their natural game.  

As you have learned the benefits and importance of visualization and imagery, let's discuss how you can practice visualization and imagery to improve your performance.

HOW  CAN YOU PRACTICE VISUALIZATION AND IMAGERY?

If you want to practice visualization and imagery, firstly, outline your focus. This means that you have to focus on your mission. The next step is to attain the mindset, which means that you can sit in a quiet place free from disturbance. Some players use earphones to block unnecessary sound. It will help them utilize all their abilities to get a proper visualization of what they want. After sitting in a calm environment, try to engage your senses to assist you in focusing on your visualization. For example, you can start from your visual perception, such as imagining what kind of ground it is in which you are playing. Is it made on a slope or plane land? Are there clouds in the sky? Then you can move towards the sound. It means that you can feel that the crowd is yelling with enthusiasm. You can also use the feeling of smell like you can imagine you playing middle of the city, and the smoke of traffic is entering your nose. At last, you can touch yourself to feel your nervousness and passion.

After getting the successful visualization of what you want, be sure you need to practice this visualization with consistency until the ultimate day. On the day of the competition, nothing will be new to you. You will be familiar with all the scenarios, and it will not be a tough job for you to play your game.

So, if you want to improve your performance, then start practicing visualization today. Surely you will see an improvement in your practice.