How many times have you pictured yourself winning a big tournament? Do you see yourself in your uniform or warmups? Are you handed a trophy or awarded a medal? Everyone has pictured certain moments of their sports careers, but what you may not realize is how much visualization can give you an edge.
Visualization is the practice of picturing yourself doing something over and over in your mind and it’s become a big part of sports. Tennis great Billie Jean King was practicing it as far back as the 1960s. The U.S. Olympic team travels with a number of psychologists to help athletes with their visualization exercises.
Gymnasts, ice skaters, lugers, and skiers often visualize themselves doing routines or heading down a particular track. You might think, well that’s not my sport, it’s not something I can take advantage of, but you’d be wrong. Anything your body can do, you can work on through visualization. Looking to perfect your serve? The perfect goal? Close your eyes and visualize.
The key to a good visualization is making sure all of your senses are involved. Give yourself a strong and complete picture of how the moment would go. Are you inside or outside? Are you warm and feel the sweat on your skin? Do you hear a crowd cheering or is there the tense silence of spectators on a golf course? What muscles are you engaging? What does it smell like fresh-cut grass or sweat?
The more complete the picture the more real your visualization can become. The next step is for you to take over the #MindfulnessMonday meditation. Most smartphones are now equipped with the ability to audio record. Pop open the app and record yourself visualizing everything from the first moment to the last. If you want, try writing it all down and make sure that you’ve created a full experience before you hit record.
Each day find a quiet time to close your eyes and play your visualization. Feel the muscles you would engage tingle, don’t be afraid to actually move your body if you’re driven to. The repetition is the key. If you picture it over and over and over the more like you are to engage that experience when it happens for real.
The most exciting part of visualization is it’s something you can use in everyday life, not just sports. Big presentation coming up? Visualize yourself giving it and carefully covering each point. Do you get test anxiety? Visualize yourself calmly and completely reading and answering the questions.
No matter the task taking the time to visualize your success helps you prepare for it.