You have to See it Before you Believe it!

By Ashley Corn | In Uncategorized | on August 11, 2015

As we are heading into late summer and early fall, many of you are getting ready for upcoming races. One of the best ways to mentally prepare for your race is to utilize the mental skill of imagery. Imagery is one of the best researched mental skills out there and it has been shown to increase confidence, help with focus, increase the feeling of preparedness, increase motivation, decrease negative thinking and decrease performance anxiety.

So, what is imagery and how can it be used to improve athletic performance? Simply put, imagery is using all the senses to create or recreate an experience in your mind.  We have all used imagery before and most of us use it on a daily basis through day dreaming or allowing our minds to wonder. The only difference between day dreaming and using imagery as a mental skill is that we guide our thoughts and purposefully create images and the outcome we want to achieve.

Imagery works as a mental skill because our brain and nervous system are designed to respond most effectively to images.  We think in images and the brain has a difficult time differentiating between real and vivid imaged events. The brain actually responds to the highly vivid events in the same way it responds to actual events and it processes and remembers those images as though they actually occurred. In essence, imagery creates a mental blueprint and muscle memory in our minds.  That is why highly skilled performers learn to deliberately leverage this mind-body relationship by seeing themselves achieving goals and being successful at overcoming challenges.

The images we see or think about the most are the ones that most easily to mind. Therefore, we want to use directed imagery to rehearse what we want to happen in our upcoming races or competitions. One application of imagery that we recommend using for pre-race or pre-competition mental preparation is “Best Possible Competition Imagery.” “Best Possible Competition Imagery,” is going through the entire competition from warm-up to the finish and seeing exactly what you want to happen if everything fell into place that day and you achieved your goals. Here are some quick tips to make your imagery script most effective.

  1. Involve all of your senses. What will you see, feel, smell, touch and hear at different points of the competition or race? The more vivid you can make the imagery, the better it works. If you haven’t been to that competition site before, use resources like race course videos or maps, images, blog or social media posts about the competition site to help you create the vivid scene in your mind.
  2. Add in some obstacles you will likely face during the competition. The key is to make sure you see yourself successfully dealing with those obstacles. This will create confidence that you can handle whatever comes your way and also solidify a plan for dealing with obstacles quickly on competition day.
  3. Practice! If the only time you use imagery is the night before the competition then it won’t be very effective. Record your imagery script and spend 10 minutes a day on listing to your script beginning weeks before the competition. If you repetitively listen to the script, by the time you get to the competition you will feel as though it has already occurred and everything will come naturally because you have been there so many times in your mind.

Contact us today for help created a personalized imagery script that can be used to mentally prepare for your upcoming race or competition.

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