How to Experience Success Before Competition
How do you gain a mental edge over your competition? Mental practice or visualization is one strategy that can give you a decisive advantage over your competition.
Visualization is a mental skill that uses images combined with other senses to experience a successful athletic performance prior to a practice or competition.
You have images that pop up in your head all the time. Many of those images are worst case scenarios or situations you fear might happen. Images are powerful, and when repeated over time, the likelihood of those images becoming reality increases.
Visualizing is a way to direct the movies in your head so you can achieve successful athletic outcomes.
Olympic athletes use visualization as a regular part of their mental training.
In preparation for the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials, swimmer Cody Miller visualized daily.
Miller used visualization to prepare himself for the multi-day competition against other elite swimmers and keep him mentally ready to perform under the pressure of Olympic Trials.
MILLER: “For months, before I qualified for the [2016 Olympic] team, every night before I fell asleep, I would spend 5 or 10 minutes just visualizing what the atmosphere at Olympic trials in Omaha would be like. What the pool was going to look like, how it was going to look when I was standing behind my lane. All of those things were already determined in my head and how I was going to act when that time finally came.”
In the end, Miller made the Olympic team and won a bronze medal in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Miller set an American record in the process, with a time of 58.87 seconds.
Important Visualization Steps:
1. Identify the behavior you want. What do you want to achieve? Write out exactly want you want to happen.
2. Start the exercise by getting into a comfortable position and relaxed mental state.
3. Close your eyes and set the scene. Mentally see yourself in the setting.
4. Use all your senses. What would you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. Imagine wearing your uniform and equipment.
5. Experience yourself performing the action successfully. Try to make your images as vivid as possible.
6. Feel the emotion. Start the scene feeling energized, excited, relaxed, and confident.
7. Immerse yourself in the emotions of performing successfully. Even see your teammates, coaches, parents, and spectators cheering.
8. Practice visualizing the scene on a regular basis.
Visualizing is a powerful tool and provides a substantial edge for athletes over the competition.
Each time you visualize, you embed those successful images and emotions in your mind and help you perform in a similar manner in competition.
Tip for Visualizing Successful Performances:
Mental rehearsal is not just about performing perfectly when you compete. Stuff happens in sports. You want to prepare yourself by visualizing challenges you might see and how to cope with those challenges.
Want to learn more about how to use mental rehearsal to your advantage? We work with athletes all over the world via Zoom, Facetime, and Skype. Contact us for details about mental game coaching.
Related Articles on Mental Game:
- Mental Skill of Visualization for Athletes
- What Separates Elite Athletes from the Rest?
- Athletes Who Are Stuck in a Training Mindset
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