“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” ~Albert Einstein
“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” ~Muhammad Ali
Taking hold of your mind is one of the most valuable skills you can learn in sport, life, and spirit. Many of the many skills taught in sport psychology and/or mental skills training to enhance performance is Imagery/Visualization. In a basic sense, humans think in pictures and many of us can hear the same word but can have very different pictures come to mind. For example, if I ask you recall what “success” means you may recall a happy family, fame, money, being on TV, a sense of inner peace, etc. etc. Memories are exactly that. When we recall past “good” or “bad” memories a feeling is attached that we feel in the here and now. The idea is to control your future-picture to create a feeling state such as, confidence in the here-and-now to help project you towards that picture. Such as picturing yourself crossing the finish line of an Ironman (which is what I am doing), being as ideal body weight, making through a rough time in your life, feel of a good training run tomorrow, managing your business, performing in an interview, asking for a raise, etc.
Visualization: The self-fulfilling prophecy (i.e. if I think it, then it will come true) can have a powerful affect on success in sport. Visualization involves mentally rehearsing positive outcomes of future events. For example, one might lay down, relax, and think about how a future race will play out. The person will visualize himself or herself running quickly and effortlessly, overcoming any obstacles, etc. The more vivid the visualization (i.e. sights, sounds, FEELINGS, and smells), the more powerful the visualization experience.
This is one skills that must be practiced over and over again to obtain mastery. In it’s most developed form, the ability visualize something so vivid as if you can feel it happening in the here-and-now is very powerful. In many of my previous posts I include quotes of many athletes like Kara Goucher and Heather Wurtele because they diligent in their efforts to “see” themselves as a winner before even toeing the line. They visualize an great performance or how they will handle unexpected race glitches, this is what makes great athletes transcendent athletes!
“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.” ~Michael Phelps
“In my mind’s eye, I visualize how a particular… sight and feeling will appear on a print. If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice.” ~Ansel Adams
“I study pitchers. I visualize pitches. That gives me a better chance every time I step into the box. That doesn’t mean I’m going to get a hit every game, but that’s one of the reasons I’ve come a long way as a hitter.” ~ Mark McGuire
“Make sure you visualize what you really want, not what someone else wants for you.” ~ Jerry Gillies
“When I run by myself I have my most intimate thoughts. I look for meaning in some of my important memories, I work through present difficulties, and I try to chart the best course for my future. I also do a lot of dreaming when I run. I can’t tell you how many state championships I won in my mind back in high school, how many NCAA titles I won in my fantasies at the University of Colorado, and how many Olympic medals and major marathons I’ve won in my head in the past few years. ” -Kara Goucher, American long- distance runner and Champion
KEEP REACHING FOR YOUR PEAK!