Isn’t it funny what will fire somewhat up? I saw a post about another sport psychologist doing a radio interview on imagery. As imagery is one of the most important skills an athlete can utilize, I decided to listen in. I am always more than willing to learn about new techniques to help athletes.
So why am I fired up. Because I heard the same perspective I’ve been hearing for years. The techniques lacked creativity in application and thought. Maybe I just didn’t listen close enough, but there was a lot I didn’t hear. The most important part of the interview came from the host and he was dead on In my opinion and the sport psychologist seemed to dismiss his ideas. So let me see if I can lay this out in an easy way for people to assimilate. The interviewer talked about when we were children and we used our imagination when we played. We didn’t just do it with sports, we did it when we were learning most everything that was important to us as a toddler as well. We pretended to be animals and we moved like them. We pretended to be cowboys and cowgirls. We were astronauts and pilots and racecar drivers and much more. We imagined pitching in the World Series, and winning NBA titles. For many, somewhere it seems to me around puberty, we stopped using our imaginations around sports. Maybe our focus shifted to academics or the opposite sex, but we got away from dreaming about playing games.
In most sport psychology programs an important skill taught is the use of imagery. Call it imagery rehearsal, visualization, mental rehearsal, guided imagery the process goes by many names. We teach this process with and without a relaxation procedure. We have athletes imagine a shot prior to taking it ala Jack Nicklaus and we have an athlete go into a deeply relaxed – hypnotic state to do their rehearsal and many things in between.
We use internal images asking the athlete to see things through their own eyes and on other occasions we suggest they watch themselves on TV. Both are valuable in their own time. I think the essence is understanding when to use one or the other. I teach imagery in each way. I am very NLP about this as I have said before in that I think it is important to use all of the senses. I want an athlete to see, hear, feel, smell and even taste their rehearsal. When they are learning something I would like them to watch it on TV. As they become more accomplished I think they need to shift to seeing through their own eyes, I have of course research to back this up that I conducted at the Olympic training center and at the University of Wyoming.
I do link this process most of the time with deep relaxation. There is a synergy of body awareness and an opening of the unconscious that is critical to success. Adding affirmations, suggestions about self confidence, working on coping behaviors are all additional benefits. Imagery more than fantasy is a hugely important tool for success in all that we do. Paying attention to negative images is also important and I’ll address that next.
This is some text prior to the author information. You can change this text from the admin section of WP-Gravatar Mike Margolies: Sport Psychology Consultants ; TheMental-Game.com Mike Margolies is a Sport Psychology Consultant, Certified Mental Trainer® (CMT), Author, and Professional Speaker. When you want to be the best that you can be and the one thing you might be missing is the right mental game - what can you do? Well, athletes from all over the country have been seeking out Mike Margolies for over three decades to help them reach their potential. His clients include professional, elite, colligate and youth athletes in every sport. They have sought his counsel and unique teaching style to learn about the game within the game, or what mental training can do to help them become the athlete they want to be. He has trained professional and elite athletes and helped guide many to world championships and even the Super Bowl. Mike has trained more than 2000+ athletes. He has taught at four Universities and completed research at the United States Olympic Training Center. His new book is called The Athlete within You- A Mental Approach to Sports and Business. He currently works with individual athletes, teams and businesses around the world, both in person and via SKYPE. Mike is based out of the Pacific Northwest. Let him encourage you to play the game within the game. The Athlete within You is waiting to come out play. Learn the rules to the mental game to help realize your potential. Read more from this author