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Mental Mistake Solution #4: Strategic Visualization to Improve Performance

Encouragement and mental preparation become second nature to the individual that has a firm grip on Visualization. According to the Sports Commission Committee of the Australian Government (yeah that’s a real bon-e-fide government agency!) “Imagery is one of the mental skills most used by athletes at all sporting levels. It is among the most important of the skills required for winning the mental game in sport. However, it is also one of the most misunderstood.”

Visualization is when you go through an event or activity in your mind without making any physical movements. Ideally it involves all of your senses, including sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and movement. Click here for full article

Visualizing in sports can:

- improve your technique by imaging good technique between training sessions

- assist you to practice skills when you are too tired to physically train or when you are unable to train and want to get an edge on your competitors

- increase your competition confidence by running through your performance in your head before competing

- increase your activation levels if you are feeling lethargic.

 -calm your activation levels if you are feeling nervous or stressed.

Two Olympic Athletes, Gabby Douglas (two-time Gold Medalist who at the London 2012 Olympics became the first African-American to win the Women’s All-Around Gymnastics Title) and Michael Phelps (the most dominant Olympic athlete of all time) claim that Visualizing is one of the secrets to their success.

In 2011, Aaron Rodgers had one of the most dominating playoff games for a quarterback in NFL History. According to the 27-year-old quarterback, it was a lot more mental preparation than physical. The following is an excerpt from Bleacher Report’s Nathaniel Uy - Click Here for the Full Article.

"In the sixth grade, a coach taught us about the importance of visualization, when I'm in a meeting, watching film or laying in bed before I go to sleep, I always visualize making those plays.

"A lot of those plays I made in the game, I had thought about. As I laid on the couch, I visualized making them."

"It wasn't like I surprised myself," Rodgers said. "I was surprised by the ability to be as accurate as I was on the run at times. But the plays I made in the pocket where I was able to avoid sacks, I visualized the majority before I made them."

Most of us will never play in a playoff game for a NFL team, do multiple backflips for Olympic judges, swim like Phelps, or work for the government in sports related activities, but visualization and mental rehearsal can play a significant role in your everyday life.

If you were to search on how to best Visualize your goals you will get a large assortment of weird to just plain dumb strategies. I recommend you stay away from the “experts” that are giving you the so-called steps for success. There really is no perfect way to visualize or go through mental rehearsal, however it can be a useful strategy when applied to your individual preference. My encouragement for you is to just try it.

Use Visualization Before:

A big speech

A meeting

A presentation

A job interview

An important phone call

An athletic performance

An anticipated teaching moment

Overcoming a weakness

Practice Visualization:

In silence

With music

With no music

In darkness

In the light

For short periods of time (a few seconds, a few minutes)

For long periods of time (10-15 minutes)


Stay positive

Visualize the best possible outcome

Stay focused on the goal/situation

Avoid distractions

Experience victory mentally before you do physically. How did you envision the final outcome? Check your expectations and begin to dream. See your dreams become realities inside your mind’s eye before they really happen.

Have you had any experiences with visualization? Do you find it helpful? Either way, leave a comment below.