How Elite Athletes Use Visualization 

How Elite Athletes Use Visualization

Do you Visualize your Athletic Performances?

Is visualization a consistent component of your training regimen?

Most athletes answer “no” to both of these questions.

But why do so many athletes ignore visualizing performance, even after many elite, Olympic, and professional athletes attribute their success to this particular mental skill?

Several reasons exist for athletes not visualizing on a regular basis. However, each of these reasons has a counter-argument that can break down your defenses and make visualization worthwhile to explore.

1. Lack of time — Many athletes feel overwhelmed with tight schedules. Some athletes spend over twenty hours a week or have other obligations like school and work.

However, with some time management, you will realize you have more than enough time to add visualization to your training schedule. The good news is that 10-15 minutes a day is all you need to reap the benefits of visualization.

2. Do not know “HOW”— Any worthwhile skill requires learning and coaching. How does a golfer learn to drive the ball off a tee properly? They seek advice and training from a knowledgeable coach.

How does a pitcher learn to throw a split-finger fastball for strikes? They work with a pitching coach to learn the nuances and mechanics of throwing the pitch. How can an athlete learn the mental skill of visualization?

By working with a mental coach or seeking out resources to learn the specifics of visualization.

3. Feel visualization doesn’t work for them — One common sentiment from athletes is, “I tried visualization a couple of times, and it really didn’t work.”

Take any athletic skill you currently possess. Did you give up on learning that skill after 1-2 attempts? Any worthwhile skill requires time and effort to develop.

The reality is that learning visualization takes less time to develop than throwing a split-finger fastball or driving a golf ball off a tee.

Once you break down your misconceptions, you can start learning about the benefits and strategies of visualization.

At the 2023 USATF NYC Grand Prix, British sprinter Zharnel Hughes won the men’s 100 in a blazing 9.83 seconds. Not only did Hughes achieve a personal best, but he also set the national record and ran the fastest time in the world this year.

After his win, Hughes commented that he [visualized] running that exact time the night before.

HUGHES: “This morning, I woke up with 9.83 in my mind. When I looked on the clock, and I saw 9.83, I don’t know if you saw my reaction, but I was like, ‘what just happened there?’… Manifestation is real, man.”

Seeing is believing. In other words, visualization builds confidence to the point that you “KNOW” you can achieve your goal.

Imagine what you could manifest in your athletic career if you added visualization to your daily training regimen.

This tip is straightforward. Find a coach and stick with the process until visualization feels comfortable.

Even the best athletes in the world started at ground zero before they learned how to visualize and successfully utilize the mental skill.

Know that visualization is not just about the visual system. You can visualize using other senses, such as auditory and kinesthetic as well.

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