Mental visualization is an extremely powerful tool your athletes can use to improve their performance. Just this week Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson had this to say about using mental visualization as part of his game preparation:
“It [visualization] definitely translates in playing quarterback. It’s trusting myself and trusting what you see. When you’re playing quarterback, things happen so fast, especially when you’re playing a good defense like the 49ers.”
Wilson says he tries to tries to envision every possible scenario in his mind and how to react to it if it comes up.
“I really believe it helps my game, and also, calms me. I’ve already been there 100 times throughout the week, knowing those situations throughout every single play and different situations; end of half, end of game, third-down situations.”
“I anticipate those situations before they happen. That allows me to make quick decisions. I think it also gives me that sense of poise and grace under pressure. I really don’t worry too much. I trust my teammates, I trust the calls, I trust myself more than anything, and so I just go out there and play the game of football.”
For Wilson, it’s about believing in what you’ve already seen, on the field or in your mind.
“You drop back, hit your fifth step and you make a decision, It’s either yes or no, and you make that decision and you just trust it. I think that’s what allows me to play fast.”
Here is how we taught the process of mental visualization to our athletes. As with all things, the more our athletes practiced mental visualization, the better they became at using it, and the better the results.
- Take ten minutes, in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
- Take a defensive call, or offensive play from our game plan this week.
- Picture yourself making the “perfect play”, from start (the call in the huddle) to finish, against this week’s opponent.
- Involve all of your senses – in the first person. You are not watching a movie of yourself making the play. You are seeing it, hearing it, smelling it, feeling it, with all of your senses.
- Think and phrase in positive manner – Thinking about “keeping your feet when making a great cut”, as opposed to thinking about “not slipping”.
- See a clear detailed picture in your “minds eye”
- The more detail the better. Smell the grass, feel the ball against your ribs, hear the crowd, feel the emotion. The more senses you involve, and the more realistic you “paint” the picture, the more it will imprint.
- Enjoy, feel, and experience the feelings and emotions that will be evoked when making the “perfect play”
Although many of our athletes often scoffed at the notion of “mental practice” when we first began this process, it was always satisfying when those same athletes would tell us after a game that a particular play was “exactly like I visualized it this week!”
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org