Visualization or imagery involves using all of the senses to create or recreate an experience in the mind. There is considerable evidence about how visualization can improve performance and three relevant theories of why type of mental rehearsal is so effective will be briefly mentioned here. Psychoneuromuscular and inflow theories suggest that thinking about a skill leads to production of a muscular pattern of the skill that flows into the central nervous system, thus producing or strengthening a central motor program. Symbolic learning theories state that imagery aids in performance by helping athletes develop a "blueprint" for relevant muscular activity which helps the movement become more familiar and automatic. The outflow hypothesis states that central nervous system programs are instigated or strengthened by thinking about the skill, a strengthening which produces better performance as the program "flows" outward from the central nervous system.
Imagery involves recalling from memory pieces of information stored there from all types of experiences and reshaping them into a meaningful image via a thought process. Most athletes favor one of the three perspectives mentioned below - finding the type that is most useful for you is usually a matter of personal preference.
Benefits of incorporating visualization into your package of mental skills include:
Tips for Learning and Practicing Skills
Imagery for and during competition
Imagery for recovery from injury
Remember, the mind doesn't distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. For example, if you've ever woken up after having a nightmare, notice how your body physiologically has responded (e.g. rapid heartbeat, sweating) to something that has happened only in your mind. Over time, the more efficient you become at using your mind to practice, the better your body will be able to respond when it needs to. Like all physical and mental skills, visualization will be most effective if you practice it regularly. If you would like more tips on using visualization, contact us at 231-2556 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.