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. 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.