Sports Imagery: Powerful tool for individual and team performance
In combination with physical skills, imagery training, which can be further assisted with technology tools nowadays, helps your team get the most out of training.
In psychology, the definition of Imagery Training is “a series of exercises to improve the clarity, vividness, and controllability of the images from the five senses, first individually, then in combination.” In sports, it is a mental process by which an individual rehearses or simulates a given action and is widely used in sport training as mental practice,
by using the senses.
Feature and Benefits
Sports Imagery has been long used for training and game preparation, especially in the athlete sports. Recently, the studies also showed the increasing efficacy of sports imagery for the team athletes - from novice to professional. It’s also an effective method to help athletes recover more quickly, since athletes get the ability to see the sport by utilizing the imagination and creating a sense of motivation to return to the game.
In short, advantages of sports imagery are:
Train Anywhere: Using imagery allows an athlete to train when training isn’t possible. Visualizing the weight they want to lift, the pitch they want to throw, or the putt they want to make. Technology, such as sports software that offer 2D/3D models, or VR technology can also help achieve this.
Motivation: Imagery can also help to maintain motivation. Picturing the high level of performance you want to reach helps to set goals and stay motivated through the difficult physical aspects of achieving them.
Overcome Obstacles: The use of imagery also allows athletes to regulate anxiety and conquer the weaknesses of their game. Visualizing the ability to hit the curveball you’ve struck out on will increase confidence and allow you to maintain the mental toughness to perform.
Practice frequently: It will take practice to develop this skill, so begin with small ideas until you can progress to complex scenarios. Mental rehearsal for athletes is a skill that becomes better with repetition, therefore, it’s suggested to practice your visualization or imagery daily.
Incorporate all the senses: Visualize your sports performance in detail - what would you see, hear, feel, smell and taste. (For instance, if you are a basketball player, try visualizing seeing the ball, feeling the ball, cheers of the audiences, sound of running in the stadium, etc.) Feel how your body would feel as you go through the motions of your performance.
Within the team training (ice hockey, basketball, football, etc.), In combination with drill explanation and execution, coaches can also help athletes/players to integrate imagery into you team’s practices to make them more effective & efficient.
More studies have shown the effectiveness and positive outcome of sports imagery training. Besides, more customized imagery training programs also occur in different sports due to the needs of different skills and training types.
More about the connection between Sports Imagery, muscle, and brain,
please refer to our Sunbears blog.
- APA (American Psychological Association) Dictionary of Psychology
- Jennifer Cumming, Sport Imagery Training, Association for Applied Sport Psychology
- Aleksander Veraksa and Aleksandra Gorovaya, Imagery training efficacy among novice soccer players, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences
- Imagery in Sports Performance, Ortho Rhode Island
- How to Use Imagery to Increase the Quality of Practice, The Excelling Edge blog