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Achievement drive
Goal setting
visualization and imagery in sport  

What visualization means

Have you ever spent time after a competition going over different parts of the competition in your mind?

Did you go through different parts of your performance and replay what happened? If, like most athletes, you do this then you are using imagery.

Imagery/visualization is a mental skill that appears to be beneficial to athletes at all levels who want to manage their emotions and improve their performance. 


Imagery/visualization has a wide range of applications in sport--for example, it can be used to help improve specific performance skills, raise confidence, maintain positive thinking, aid problem solving, manage performance anxiety, review performance and maintain mental freshness during injury.

There are two ways to visualize things. You can adopt an internal perspective and see things from behind your own eyes as if you were actually competing, or you can take an external perspective and view things from outside your body as if you were watching a video of yourself. You may have a preference for one of these perspectives or you may like to switch between the two.

It is good practice to utilize imagery regularly, employ relaxation techniques before using imagery and deploy all of your senses when creating mental images. It is also advisable to use imagery for training as well as for competition and to visualize yourself following your game plan and performing well.

Keys to visualization

Here are some keys to using imagery and visualization successfully to help you perform well.

  Use imagery and visualization to help master skills and counter nerves.  
  Create positive images that are vivid and detailed and make use of all senses--try to see, feel, hear, smell, and taste the scene.  
  Visualize yourself performing skilfully and confidently and replay the images frequently.  
  Create a movie that you can watch forwards and backwards and pause as if you were watching a real movie.  
  Try to spend from 10 to 30 minutes every day visualizing yourself performing well and achieving your goals.  
  Think of imagery as a mental skill that you need to practice to perfect like physical skills.  


Watch this video

To develop your understanding of the purpose of visualization and imagery, watch this video about how Tiger Woods learned to use his creativity and imagination to enhance his performance. 


Read this book

Read Creative Visualization for Beginners by Richard Webster.