What is Visualization – How and Why Does it Work?
Visualization is a mental technique that involves creating vivid mental images of a desired outcome. It works by creating a mental blueprint that influences the body during the actual performance, helping you stay focused on your goals and perform at your best.
Physical training is only part of the equation for achieving success in sports. Many elite athletes also rely on visualization to help them reach their goals. Athletes can improve their focus, confidence, and overall performance by mentally rehearsing their performance.
But visualization isn’t just for athletes – anyone can use it to achieve their personal and professional goals.
In this article, we’ll explore the psychology behind visualization and cover three strategies to enhance your performance and achieve success.
How Mental Imagery Affects Performance
If you’ve ever missed a few easy shots while playing basketball or have always wanted to lower your golf score, use visualization to reach the goal of success you want.
In his book “The Psychology of Winning,” Denis Waitley mentions the story of Lieutenant Commander (Retired) Everett Alvarez Jr., a POW who mentally rehearsed his golf game while imprisoned for over eight years in Vietnam.
During that difficult time, he utilized visualization techniques to maintain his mental focus and stay connected to his greatest passion… golf. After being released, he returned to the United States and qualified for the US Open in 1965.
Imagining and mentally practicing the movements and desired outcome stimulates the same brain regions as when you physically carry out that activity.
“Virtually nothing on earth can stop a person with
a positive attitude who has his goal clearly in sight.”
~ Denis Waitley ~
Visualizing success creates a mental blueprint for the body to follow while performing. This can help athletes stay focused on their goals and perform at their best, even under high-pressure situations.
The more detailed you can act out successfully achieving your goal within your mind, the more the positive outcome gets embedded into your subconscious. It is similar to physical muscle memory when you engage your mind and body. This technique is called guided imagery.
Sports stars, actors, and entrepreneurs have credited a big part of their success because they used guided imagery to mentally and visually go through the motions they need to make to have the desired successful outcome. It’s just like what actors do at rehearsal; practice makes perfect.
Different Mental Skills That Help Determine A Positive Outcome
Positive self-talk is another key to better sports performance. Use positive affirmations to motivate yourself to make that shot, reach top speeds, bounce back after a bad fall, and not feel anxious.
Dr. Jim Afremow, a renowned sports psychologist and author of “The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive,” emphasizes the importance of using positive self-talk or affirmations to enhance performance.
He teaches that self-talk is a powerful tool athletes can use to improve their mental game and achieve their goals. According to Dr. Afremow, positive self-talk involves using encouraging and constructive language to support one’s efforts.
By using positive affirmations, athletes can build confidence, reduce anxiety, and stay focused on their goals. Positive self-talk can also help athletes reframe negative thoughts or experiences and turn them into opportunities for growth and learning.
It is essential to use specific, realistic, and relevant affirmations. For example, instead of saying, “I am the best athlete in the world,” an athlete might say, “I am improving every day and getting closer to achieving my goals.” This type of affirmation is more grounded in reality and can help the athlete stay focused on the improvement process.
Positive self-talk can also help athletes reframe negative thoughts or experiences and turn them into opportunities for growth and learning. This mental skill is an excellent method that helps you continue, even when you want to throw in the towel.
The Eye Of The Tiger
Another mental skill is tunnel vision, i.e., staying focused on the playing field while not letting distractions cause you to lose concentration.
Tunnel vision can be compared to the eye of the tiger, in which the pupil narrows while hunting to help reduce glare and blur from bright sunlight and to maintain a clear image of its prey.
By focusing on your goals or outcome, you block out potential distractions that can slow or hinder your progress. In addition, this focus will help you achieve your goal with more precision and accuracy.
Believing in yourself is another key to enhanced sports performance. Not letting victories slow you down or adversity stop you from continuing your path to success.
Downhill skiers, for example, prepare for a big race ahead of time by picturing themselves at the starting gate of the downhill course of the venue. Next, they mentally feel the weather conditions, imagining themselves racing past each gate and feeling every bump while leaning into each curve.
Utilizing this type of focused visualization even allows them to hear the roar of the spectators the closer they get to the finish line to win the race. This is where visualization turns into reality.
Top basketball star Michael Jordan once stated, “I visualized where I wanted to be, what kind of player I wanted to become. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there.” He became one of the greatest basketball players of all time because of his positive mindset and use of visualization.
Visualize Your Journey To Success
“Maybe other people will try to limit me,
but I don’t limit myself.”
~ Jim Carrey ~
Actor Jim Carrey pursued his dream of being a comedian by performing in small comedy club venues in Toronto, Canada.
It was 1985 when Carrey wrote himself a $10 million check for “acting services rendered,” which he dated 1995. He put down on paper what he visualized himself to be doing in the future. His thought or idea became tangible after he filled out the check.
In 1995 he found out that he had been chosen to be one of the main lead actors in the movie “Dumb and Dumber.” The studio wrote him a check for $10 million.
He mentioned that he had used the law of attraction, a technique in which you use positive thoughts and visualization to get what you desire. He kept believing in himself, which allowed him to succeed in realizing his dreams.
Wrapping it Up
By visualizing success, you can develop a clear plan of action and stay on track toward your goals. It will allow you to create a mental image of your desired outcome, which will help you to improve your focus and motivation.
Maintaining focus is essential to achieving success because it enables you to prioritize your efforts and make progress toward your objectives. By eliminating distractions and staying committed to your goals, you can achieve greater success and make the most of your abilities.
Using positive self-talk or affirmations will help you build confidence, reduce anxiety, and maintain a positive attitude toward your goals. By using constructive language and focusing on the positive aspects of your performance, you can overcome self-doubt and perform at your best.
Overall, using visualization, staying focused, and using positive self-talk or affirmations are essential components for attaining your goals. By incorporating these techniques into your daily routines, you can develop a winning mindset and overcome obstacles as you turn your dreams into reality.