Visualization can be the mental fitness practice you need to help elevate your level of performance. In this blog, you’ll be introduced to seven tips to help you become a master of visualizing high performances.
1) Start off slow:
Much like starting a new skill or play at half speed, using visualization to practice the mechanics can add quality to your mental practice. The reason why is because visualization is seen as a functionally equivalent response in the brain ( Lang, 1977;1979; Whetstone,1995). This means that every neurological pathway used for actually doing the skill (such as shooting a free throw) are being used in visualization, minus the motor cortex. Several high level athletes have touted the benefits of visualization such as Aaron Rodgers, Apolo Ohono and Michael Phelps.
2) Get Specific:
What do you want to do? By setting objective goals to your visualization practice you can quickly master a lot of skills. I tell athletes the closer they get to their big competition that they should start wearing their uniform or practicing visualization in a similar environment, their brain will start making critical connections. If you’re having nerves going into a big game, practicing breathwork and visualization can be a powerful technique to overcome pre-performance anxiety.
3) Remain in control:
When practicing imagery, it’s paramount that you remain in control of the situation. You can watch yourself in either third person, first person, or both (Hardy & Callow, 1995) to overcome difficult situations. Visualization can also be used for motivation to get to the top of the podium stand, but think about what steps you need to take to get there. These can be different ‘practice sessions’ to help you piece together a high performance experience.
4) Make it realistic:
One of the most important aspects of visualization is making the environment as real as possible. If you’ve seen the place where you’re competing, think about all the nuances of that environment. If it’s a new field or court, consider finding pictures on the internet to help you visualize the landscape, sounds, smells, even the feeling of the air around you. The more realistic stimuli you add, the more real it will feel.
5) Practice daily:
Visualization can easily be as much of a part of your training as going to the gym. Aaron Rodgers has mentioned that he learned how to visualize when he was in the 6th grade and has used it time and time again to practice difficult situations out on the field. Simply take 5-10 minutes to start. Whether you’re rehearsing a new play, or running a race, imagery can be included in any mental-fitness technique.
6) Write out your own script
If you have a hard time getting clear and specific on what you want to mentally rehearse, consider writing it out and recording it. If you don’t like listening to your own voice then ask a friend to record it for you. Guided scripts make it easier to help you focus on what you can control. You can also use Rewire’s mindset recovery options which has several visualization practices to help give you different ideas on what to write your script on.
7) Combine it with Rewire
If you’re not training for anything specific, consider using rewire to help you train your motivation. Rewire’s motivation visualization can help you remain focused on your goals during long extended bouts of training. If you’re reading this on mobile, click here to check out Rewire’s pre-flight checklist to help you practice visualizing your upcoming races.