But what does it actually mean to visualize or imagine a performance and what is the point of doing it? Athletes partake in physical practice to make them strong, but mental rehearsal can make them even stronger.
By re-creating an image of their optimal performance, the brain begins to believe it will happen and learns how to make it happen. No, seriously, it is science. Neuroplasticity = when the brain has the ability to reorganize itself by making new connections due to environment, behavior, and thinking and emotions.
To break it down simply: If an athlete visualizes their optimal performance with vividness (what do they see, hear, smell, feel, etc), control (slowing down the image, taking time to absorb what they want to happen) and positive focus (them completing a skill or winning a competition) it will increase their chances of making it happen in real time.
So why use imagery? It can help get athletes past mental blocks, increase confidence, help with skill development, relaxation, and increases attentional control.
Hear from one of our mentors Breeja Larson on how she uses visualization to not only help her set goals, but ACHIEVE them.
VISUALIZATION HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN IMPORTANT PART OF MY TRAINING SINCE THE VERY BEGINNING. My favorite example is after my freshman year at Texas A&M I wanted to set a higher goal for my 100 breaststroke. I decided I wanted to break the American record set by Tara Kirk many years prior. I thought choosing a “sandwich” number 57.75 would be fun and really easy to remember, so I started writing it down everywhere! I wrote it on my hand, my bathroom mirror, my notebooks, my water bottle... I even had it as my email password (it’s been changed since...). I had a healthy obsession. I would visualize my race before going to bed, I would visualize the perfect race and winning, and the worst possible case scenario and then still winning. When the end of my sophomore year rolled around, I felt so confident going into my races because I had already swam a 57.75 in my head over 200 times, so it almost didn’t even feel like a big deal. When I finished my 100 breaststroke final with a 57.71, earning my first American Record, it felt like the most rewarding moment of my career at that point. Visualization is a powerful tool. If you create the powerful mindset that you can and WILL achieve what you’re after, there’s nothing that should stop you. Just be PATIENT and KEEP VISUALIZING YOUR DREAM!
For visualization exercises, goal practice and more - dive into all things #mindset by visiting our E-book store!! In ‘It’s Normal To Be Nervous’ get all the goods on mentor advice and real time techniques on how to turn pre competition nerves into your super power.