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Visualization Techniques
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Author:  Dr. Jump [ Wed May 04, 2011 5:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Visualization Techniques

What Can Mental Rehearsal Do For You?
By: Matt Neufeld, Athletic Performance Assistant

How many times, athletes, have you heard your coaches tell you “This sport is 90% mental and 10% physical”? Coaches: how many times do you see athletes that have talent and ability, but lack the mental toughness to be truly great? Having been on both sides of this particular issue, it is easy to attest to the importance of mental engagement in one’s particular realm of sport. However hard we train our body, we must remember that ultimately, all displays of strength, increases in performance, and achievements must first come from neuromuscular adaptation. Because of this, ignoring the training of our central nervous system is a step we cannot ignore in our regimen.

The physiological effects of visualization techniques, mental rehearsal, and imagery are rather astounding. Between these, and the “intangible” effects of visualizing, it is a shame that such strategies are under-utilized (or altogether neglected) in so many training programs. From the improvement of kinesthetic awareness, to simple stress relief, the ability to conduct quality mental rehearsals can be a game changer in the preparation for your next big event.

Studies have been conducted on sprinters, Nascar drivers, and elite level quarterbacks regarding the effect of visualizations on “game-day” performance abilities. Those who are proficient at visualizing game-type situations are actually able to fire their motor neurons in the exact sequence and timings as if they were really completing the motion. It has also been theorized that such techniques are beneficial to kinesthetic sense and body awareness. These mental repetitions allow for motor learning to take place without an actual motor function being completed. An athlete must be proficient in their skill-based activities for these higher learning processes to take place, but such adaptations can translate to faster reaction time in complex situations, less “paralysis by analysis” in competition, and greater efficiency when multiple responses must be selected.

Visualization techniques also have many intangible benefits that can augment athletic performance. By pre-planning your actions through imagery, the stress of competition can be alleviated. Putting yourself into a competitive mindset can also improve sympathetic nervous responses in competition. Just like training your body, having your mind primed and prepped for excited levels of competition can go a long way.

Many athletes use visualization to “intend” the outcome of a game, race, or event. This practice can improve the picturing of goals, alleviation of stress, and provide all of the other benefits of internal rehearsal. Whether it is in the middle of a practice session, or lying in bed the night before the big race, engage your mind so that you can perform the best that you can. Find whatever methods suit your needs, and don’t neglect the organ that is the most crucial to athletic excellence: your brain!

Author:  morgeen [ Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Visualization Techniques

Mental rehearsal activates a network of neural coded programs that activate physiological responses. Therefore, imagining something means you are actually strengthening the neural pathways required for that skill and the more likely you are to reproduce it again in the future...

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