I’ve been a competitive athlete all my life. I’ve been involved in different sports at different levels since the age of 8 and along the way, a lot of coaches have spoken to me or my team about visualization. “See yourself scoring that try” “See yourself winning that match”.
Only now I realise that I never understood what they meant. It’s easy to close your eyes and see yourself scoring a try, a winning goal or whatever, but all boys do that when they play footie on the street. So how does that help you achieve anything in a proper competition? That’s the piece I never understood and maybe my coaches never did either.
I think the confusion comes from the overlapping of two concepts: imagination and visualization. Imagination allows you to see yourself on the pilot seat of a spaceship to Mars to rescue Lady O’Mygodyouregorgeous but has nothing to do with reality. Visualization on the other hand, is about seeing yourself achieving things that you’re working towards.
Some people call it mental rehersal as it gives you the opportunity to run a race 20 times inside your head without the actual physical expenditure that would be required in the real world. Best of all is that it actually helps you improve your performance in real life. For the sciency bits you can read about a study conducted on the effectiveness of mental practice by Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio.
What I realise now is that the missing piece of advice from my coaches all those years ago was that they didn’t tell me how to do it or what I was supposed to achieve by doing it. I’ll do some research and write on my interpretation of the steps involved.
Note: this is a post from my own blog. You can find it here: https://262waystorun.blogspot.com/