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