3 Simple Ways to Visualize Victory
As a Division I athlete, the pressure to compete at the highest level has left me searching for ways to maximize my potential in sport and get an edge over my competition. Every athlete can push themselves in the weight room only so far, but the mental aspect of sport is limitless. Whether it’s perfecting a golf swing, making the game winning shot, or perfectly launching out of the blocks, the brain plays a key role in our body mechanics. The art of visualization is the process of constructing mental images that allows athletes to mentally prepare for what they want to come. These simple steps can help any athlete easily open up a new competitive advantage through visualization and mental practice.
Relax. The first element of practicing effective visualization is relaxation. Relaxing the body enables the brain to vividly process mental images. This step requires the athlete to be in a quiet and comfortable setting. After taking deep breaths and relaxing muscles, time should be taken to imagine oneself in a “happy place” to enhance relaxation. This process stimulated the brain to start imagery.
Intend the Outcome. After relaxation is achieved, the athlete can begin the visualization process. The athlete should rehearse the desired action or competition in their mind. While imagining the positive outcome it is also important to analyze every aspect of the event to vividly create the mental image. Olympic bobsledder, Lydon Rush, told reporters at the airport that he was already on the Olympic sliding track. In his mind he had already imagined himself loading his sled, running a perfect start, and cleanly cutting through every turn. This strategy of preparing ones mind for competition can apply to any sport.
Be Confident. Visualization is a great pre-competition preparation tool, but it is essential that the athlete remains confident during the actual competition. When visualization becomes a part of an athletes training techniques they will feel more prepared having rehearsed the event. The mental benefits that come out of practicing visualization will directly lead to confidence when the athlete is able to imagine the perfect outcome. My great track coach, Jose Barbosa, always said, “Your mind runs.” Maximizing the potential of the mind is the next competitive advantage in sport.