You Use Visualization, but Do You Use It Purposefully?

What is visualization?  It is something we do all of the time as humans.  Every time you picture something in your head, you are technically using visualization.  You're visualizing right now as you read the words on this page.  What I'm going to discuss today though is using visualization as a purposeful technique used outside of competition.

I am a big fan of the two categories of visualization Dr. Jack Curtis (one of the trailblazers in baseball's work with sport psychology) works on with his players.  The categories are mental recall and mental rehearsal.  Mental recall is where you visualize past successful performances.  Mental rehearsal is where you visualize future performances.  Both can have positive effects on your outlook and how you perform.

One of the great things about visualization is you have complete control over your performance.  You can bat 1.000, you can complete every pass, and you can make every putt.  Why not see yourself being successful when you have complete control?

Another technique I like is putting yourself in tough situations and working on seeing how you want to react.  For example, a pitcher may visualize being in a bases loaded, no out scenario.  The pitcher can then work on staying calm, slowing things down, getting back to a routine, or whatever else helps him perform well in that situation.

Some say that visualization can have effects equal to actual physical reps.  Although I do not recommend ditching working on your swing, taking jump shots, or running routes completely, I think purposeful visualization can be a great addition to your preparation and in-game thinking.  Visualization can help increase your confidence which is ultimately what success in sports and life is all about!

A Few Keys When Trying Visualization:

*Relax- Find a quiet, comfortable place where you can focus on what you are doing.  Focus on deep breaths in and out.

*Use the senses- Try to incorporate as many as possible to really feel like you are there.  Hear the crowd.  Feel the warm air. Smell the freshly cut grass.

*Practice- I've read horror stories about coaches using visualization with their teams for the first time with teams before a championship game.  This is too late and makes them feel less prepared!  Like any other training, visualization takes work and repetition for its effects to take hold.  Do not wait until things get bad to turn to mental techniques.  That is like waiting until you go 0-10 to start working on your swing.

Real Life Application: Visualization can be used to help performance in every aspect of life.  Next time you have a big presentation at school or work, try some visualization the night before.  It can help create a sense of comfort that you have given the presentation before, and you have dominated it!

Side Note 1: I've attached a short visualization script I created for a class I took over the spring for you to take a look at.  The target audience is high school hitters.  It is by no means perfect, but I do think it serves the purpose of giving an idea of what a script may look like. The script can be found here: Sample Visualization Script

Side Note 2:  Questions on visualization?  I want to hear them!  One thing I hope to do as a mental coach is to create individualized visualization scripts and/or recordings for athletes and coaches.  For me, making the experience as personal as possible will create an atmosphere that will help visualizers maximize value.  If you are interested in the possibility of me creating a script or recording for you or for your team, please get in touch.  Email me at ehrlichb1@gmail.com or shoot me a DM on Twitter @Coach_Ehrlich!  Thanks again for reading.


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