When it comes to sports, athletes will do just about anything to get that “edge" over the competition. Special diets, supplements, and physical conditioning, just to name a few, are the ways that athletes prepare for competition. There is one very specific type of training that is often overlooked or underrated. This is mental training, or visualization. Many top athletes use this type of training.
There have been studies done on the effects of visualization in sports by some of the top universities in the country. Studies clearly show that utilizing the mind/body connection, whether it is through visualization, self hypnosis, or affirmations, can significantly improve the athlete's skills. It can also help them to become more focused, and even overcome or prevent training burnout.
Visualizing is simply “seeing" yourself doing what you want to do and mentally practicing your game. The following are just a few examples of what visualization can do to improve sports performance:
*Become mentally prepared - Being in the right state of mind at game time is crucial. The ability to focus and block out everything going on in the world outside of your game can mean the difference a mediocre performance and a great performance.
*Improve skills - Spending time visualizing yourself learning a new skill, or improving current ones can help you to perfect your skills.
*Review your game - Reviewing how you you play your position and how you would like to improve can help you perform better.
*Rehearsal strategy - Mentally going over possible situations that may come up and imagining your strategies can help you be more relaxed and confident doing your game.
*Get a winning attitude - After losing games, athletes often lose some of their hard earned confidence. This can have a negative effect on their game. Using visualization to “see" yourself as a winner can break through a negative attitude.
Like any other training, visualization must be practiced often in order for it to be truly effective. A few minutes each day is enough. Sit or lie down in a comfortable, quiet place and relax. Begin by imagining yourself practicing. See yourself performing your skill perfectly and effortlessly. Then see yourself in the game. Notice how relaxed you feel and how comfortable and confident you are. Imagine yourself playing the best game you have ever played. As you continue your visualization, work on any problem areas and see yourself playing your game effortlessly and always see yourself getting better and better.
Visualization can be very effective, but it doesn't take the place on physical sports specific training. It is a tool to help you be the best you can be. It takes patience and practice. If you have trouble visualizing, you may want to listen to some guided meditation CD's, or see a certified hypnotherapist for a few sessions to get you started.
Jessica Bergkvist is a Certified Personal Trainer, Massage TherapiscCertified Clinical Hypnotherapist, and Registered Addiction Specialist in Long Beach, CA. Jessica has been working in the healing arts since 1991. Private hypnosis sessions, personal training, and personalized hypnosis tapes available. Affordable fitness and weight loss coaching by email and/or telephone also available. You can reach Jessica by email: HypnoFitness@yahoo.com