Following up on something from the Master’s that applies to all athletes. I’ve made some comments about this the use of imagery and visualization in other posts, but the comment by Bubba Watson is particularly important.
Bubba got off the course at the Masters and said “I just got into the trees, saw a crazy shot in my head, and now I’m wearing the Green Jacket”.
So let’s look at what this means to an athlete. The ability to imagine success is critical to performance and imagining or visualizing the right picture is important as well. It is not good enough to conjure up unrealistic pictures in your mind, nor is it helpful to have a perspective that will not be of value.
I’ve been asked many times what the difference between using your imagination and fantasy is when using this process. The answer I generally give goes like this. It is one thing to imagine jumping to catch a pass or dunk a basketball when it is within your abilities, it is another thing to believe you are Superman and believe you can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Visualization is a developed skill using solid goal setting criteria to use your mind to in many cases problem solve a solution.
Perspective is important. I’ve studied elite athletes at the United States Olympic Training Center, college athletes and dancers and found that their perspective using imagery changes depending on your level of accomplishment. Higher level performers, when they are learning a new activity, view themselves performing as on video. When they imagine a well learned skill it is through their own eyes, seeing what they would during performance. This perspective has been referred to as external vs. internal imagery. Lower level athletes and dancers reversed this tendency. Our analysis also showed that when we taught athletes to use visualization as elite performers did, their skills improved faster than groups that imaged as lower level performers. I have been using this method training athletes for over two decades very successfully. It is not a random event. It is not what seems right to you. If you want success, do as experts do.
So what does this have to do with Bubba Watson and his great shot at the Masters Golf Tournament? EVERYTHING! Bubba saw the shot in his mind. He pictured for him a realistic outcome based on past performance. He likely viewed it from both perspectives. External and internal.
The consequences were emotional control, confidence, and the motor ability to put the shot together. What he saw in his mind allowed him to unconsciously find the right swing plan to hit the shot. What we do imagine or visualize has a direct effect on our motor neurons and our performance. If you want to experiment, just visualize failure doing a task. If you are really trying this most of the time you will not do well. Try shooting on goal. Imagine a ball or puck going way left or right and then fire away without changing the image. As you practice doing this successfully you will perform better. In an active sport like hockey, basketball or soccer using imagery rehearsal with relaxation is very effective in learning new skills as well as honing things you already are great at. Keep perspective in mind and you will become a better player. The next post I’ll talk about emotional control and imagery.
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