Applying Mental Imagery Like Olympic Athletes
As Olympians gear up for the 2016 Rio games, many of those athletes have been looking for a way to land on the podium at the summer games.
All of the athletes are talented and physically gifted… All of the athletes have devoted all of their time to training… All of the athletes are the very best within their sport.
The difference between medaling and falling short will come down to the mental game.
Many US athletes have turned to the power of imagery to give themselves an edge over the competition.
You can use visualization or mental rehearsal in many ways:
Kayla Harrison, who is seeking to defend her Olympic judo title at the Rio Games, spends time daily imagining success at the Olympic Games.
HARRISON: “Every night I visualize myself wining the Olympics… I picture myself bombing the girl in the final and standing on top of the podium and watching the flag go up and feeling the gold medal go around my neck and hugging my coach. I visualize all of that every night.”
Swimmer Missy Franklin, who won four gold medals at the London Games, uses visualization as a way of reducing anxiety of the unknown.
FRANKLIN: “When I get there, I’ve already pictured what’s going to happen a million times so I don’t actually have to think about it.”
Diver Troy Dumais, a four-time Olympian, uses visualization as a way of mentally practicing his performance.
DUMAIS: “If you can see yourself hitting a dive, the chances of you hitting a dive increase greatly.”
Fencer Mariel Zagunis, a two-time gold medalist, uses visualization as a way of reviewing her game plan for her opponents.
ZAGUNIS: “In saber fencing, points happen literally in split seconds, and tides can change and turn very, very quickly. So part of visualization is preparing yourself for every situation, so when it shows itself, you’re ready for it.”
And there many more uses for visualization:
–To stay relaxed before or between events.
–To achieve the proper mental state for competing.
–To manage the physical discomfort that comes with pushing your body to its limits.
–To increase confidence prior to an event.
–To compartmentalize errors and move past mistakes.
–To rebound after a bad event.
One the greatest benefits of visualization is mental preparation. Countless research studies have indicated that visualization can improve performance as much as 45 percent!
The more repetitions you perform, the better you become at a task. Visualization is a way of increasing the number of mental reps you perform.
As you watch the Olympics this summer, know that the feats of greatness you are viewing have as much to do with mental training as they do with the physical side of the sport.
The same type of mental training that benefits Olympians can impact your performance… All you need to do is to schedule it into your training.
Try this visualization tip:
Some athletes say, “I don’t have time for visualization.”
Well that’s not true…
Find downtime where you are not doing much (before dinner or practice, during commercials, before bedtime, etc.) and mentally engage in rehearsing your performance.
Use a first-person perspective and feel how you want to perform. You can also use rehearsal to project yourself having a focused and confident mindset.
Related Sports Psychology Articles
- How to Pros Use Visualization to Improve Success
- How Visualization Helps Athletes
- How Athletes Deal with Stress
Download a free sports psychology report to improve your mental game!
The Relaxed Athlete
The ability to relax and play your game under pressure is what separates the winner from the loser in any competition. Champion athletes train hard in practice, are motivated for the right reasons, and are able to raise their game in crunch-time with two minutes remaining in the game..
A relaxed and confident performance begins in the mind! When you are mentally prepared to compete, you can have an optimal level of intensity AND poise!
The Relaxed Athlete program is ideal for any athlete that wants to overcome pregame anxiety, worry, or excess tension and learn to perform with poise. It’s also ideal for any coach or parent who wants to teach athletes to perform with poise and relaxation in competition.