Mental Imagery – Introduction to a Sport Psychological Technique

Mental Imagery – Introduction to a Sport Psychological Technique


I did not hear about mental whatsoever First contact with sports psychology was
when I was about 14, 15 years old. I was quite good in Judo. I did much
training, more training than others but in competition I often lost against
opponents that I would normally beat. But I lost because my head was full of
negative thoughts and I was not focused. I thought about what would
happen if I lose the fight. So that’s when I started first time to work with
sports psychologist to help me get positive thoughts. To visualize how I
would do a good fight, to focus on my strong techniques. I came in touch with
sports psychology during my time here at the GSU. I got to know
about it a little bit and it was really really interesting to me because I’ve never done that before. I didn’t know that technique and I really like to use this mental strength to improve
my game. Mental Imagery is a sport psychological technique that
most people use intuitively without specifically knowing about it. It’s
defined as imagining a certain experience or skill as detailed and with
as many senses as possible. You can use it in training, when learning
or refining a skill, in competition to focus and regulate arousal and during
injury. Yes, I heard about mental imagery. I think
there were two parts of it, I would call both visualization I think. First
was in competitions to get a good mindset. I tried to visualize my
competition. I tried to see my opponent in my head and thought about how I would
handle this guy, how I would grip, what my techniques are, focus on my
strong techniques. And the second part of visualization was more when I was
injured. I was not able to do Judo but I was able to do Judo in my head, so I had to imagine how I throw my opponents in any details I could get How do I grip, how do I pull, how is the positioning of my feet and so on. I think in competition it’s really important to be strong in your head and
visualization really helped me to focus before the fight. Because usually you
are standing in front of the mat, you are waiting until the competition begins and
you can just stand there and let your thoughts spin around or you use
techniques like visualization to really focus on the fight and prepare yourself. A common misconception in coaches and athletes is, that sports psychological
techniques, such as mental imagery, are primarily used to combat a problem but
it is just as effective in enhancing performance. I think it could be really
useful to use this visualization and mental imagery technique to use in my
sport because when you’re shooting like shooting free throw, shooting jump shots I think would be really helpful to go through this movement just in your
mind and get a feeling for it. Because it’s always the
same movements, the same routines you’d use during this shooting motion and things would be helpful to get your mind
straight and then to bring it on court. I really really improved my free
throw percentage this season so I don’t know, maybe maybe it helped yeah
and I definitely felt really good with the technique so yeah it could help. Research has shown that imagining a
skill, activates the same brain regions as actually executing it. We asked
experts on their experiences with mental imagery and an example of how effective
it can be. I use mental imagery for example with athletes who are injured so that they still keep the feeling for how to do the technique, how to play that
pass. The example for sports psychology overall where mental imagery really worked best is the the story of Michael Phelps. winning his seventh gold medal at the
Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 where he got water into his goggles and he didn’t
see anything inside the pool from I think 55, 65 meters onwards and he swam
those 150 meters completely blind and he was only able to do that because
he practiced mental imagery and visualization day in and day out. I would say I use a lot of self-talk. Arousal regulation would be one of the bigger things as well progressive
muscle relaxation, meditation, self-awareness and also mental imagery. Basically I would say I try it with most of my athletes, at least once. And then we can see if it fits for a person because it really depends on wether the
individual is good with imagination and stuff like that. But I would say you could put it on every sport. I had a golf player who
always hit a slice with his golf ball and the main problem was is his left
hand didn’t have the right angle when it hit the ball. But he learned it for a couple of years, like 10 years, the wrong way so he once in a
while always got the slice into the ball And then we started using first self
explanation of the new movement and then the dimension imagery with the
observant perspective and at the end with the inner perspective and we could
change or we changed his movement in, I would say like three to four weeks. That’s really good after ten years of practice. Basketball is an example of a sport with
complex demands where mental imagery can be used in pressure situations to
successfully execute an automatized skill like the free throw. You can visualize
using different perspectives such as the third-person perspective and the
first-person perspective. Additionally, mental imagination through the gaze
perspective enhances the execution of a tactical play like the pick-and-roll. In summary: Mental imagery is a sports
psychological technique that can be highly individualized, is applicable to
all sports and is a cost-effective tool that can help improve anyone’s
performance. So I definitely would like to try it yeah.

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