Elite athletes understand that beyond the hours at the gym, what often sets them apart is their mental approach to their sport. The same is true for your own pursuits. Beyond skill sets, education, work experience, or personal strengths what sets peak performers apart from everyone else is taking the time to be mentally prepared for performance.
Kayla Harrison, the first American to win a gold in judo in the 2012 Olympics, uses imagery to see her performance before it takes place. She explained her process to The Washington Post that she takes 10 minutes every night to visualize herself heading to the Olympics — from waking up in the morning to listening to music on the way to the competition to the match itself: “I picture myself bombing the girl in the final and standing on top of the podium and watching the flag go up and feeling the gold medal go around my neck and hugging my coach. I visualize all of that every night.”
Many elite athletes understand that what often sets them apart is being mentally prepared to perform They understand that using visualization, or what Apex Performance refers to as imagery to stay in the moment, no matter what happens, is a very important skill. Imagery isn’t simply the act of thinking through a good performance; rather, it is the complete mental immersion in a task that activates the same exact brain connections as a physical performance. Peak performers can feel, smell, see, hear, and taste their best performances any time they want. When done well, the brain literally doesn’t know the difference between a real performance and a vividly imagined performance. This provides performers with the tools to replicate their performance in pressure filled settings.
If elite athletes use visualization and imagery to break world records imagine what it can do for you.
Whether your goal is a gold medal, kicking the winning field goal or acing a performance review at work, mastering the use of imagery to be able to perform in the moment is crucial. Try creating your own imagery script using the following tips, and see how vivid you can make your mental practice:
1) Have a clear idea in your mind of exactly what you want to image before you start
2) See, hear, and feel yourself performing the desired task/event/situation.
3) Write down every detail you can see, hear, smell, or feel.
4) Go through your whole event picturing each significant point. Feel yourself performing with strength and confidence.
5) Visualize with the finished script at least once a day and if possible, just before the performance situation. The more you do it, the more “real” it becomes!
6) If you are new to this, record your script and then listen to it as you image. This is called guided imagery.