Visualization is literally seeing an image or movie in your mind. While the word “visual” implies that visualization is a visual skill, it is not. The clarity and quality of the image or movie played in your mind, for example, has little to do with visual skills.Rather, the ability to visualize requires athletes to draw on short-term and long-term memory. For purposes of sports vision, visualization is a brain skill and a sports psychology skill.Nonetheless, vision programs often include visualization training among the skills developed. As such, we have included this visualization section in our visual skills pillar.
Why is visualization important in athletic performance?
The brain does not distinguish between visualization and a real practice, competition or event. In fact, scientific studies show that, in certain cases, mental imagery training can be at least as effective as physical training.By creating an image in your mind and visualizing it over and over again, your brain will start to believe that the event has actually occurred. The more vividly you visualize an event, the realer it will seem, and the most effective you will be at re-programming your brain.
What can athletes do to improve their visualization skills?
Effective visualization does not take a lot of time — five minutes per day is enough.It does, however, require commitment and dedication. Only the truly dedicated athletes, who do their visualization exercises day in and day out, will improve their visualization skills.