Blog » Health and Wellbeing » Visualisation for Athletes

Visualisation for Athletes

If we are looking to be successful in sports, we often train hard and eat right but the psychological aspects of success or failure is often overlooked. The right coach and training program can greatly improve your athletic performance, but at some point a plateau will be hit. That extra rep on the bench press that you can’t hit, the dunk shot you can’t reach or the extra millisecond you can’t shave off your race time could be greatly affected by your mental attitude, and in these instances, the mind can help push through the barriers, giving that extra boost through visualization. Athletes routinely use visualisation techniques both in training and in competition. Visualisation can increase the athlete’s mental awareness and confidence, both of which can aid in athletic success. Visualisation is the process of creating a mental image of what you want to happen and the Russians in 1984 realized that Olympic athletes who visualised their sport generally performed to a higher level and that this generally positively affected their performance. Later in the 90s, research showed that just 5 minutes of visualization yielded a positive performance response from both amateur and professional athletes. This also applied to visualising movements such as a corner kick or bench press which were also improved through visualisation. Some studies have even shown that those who carry out virtual weight workouts increased their strength by 13.5%, simply by thinking about lifting weights, showing the power of the human mind! Visualisation works as in the visualisation you see yourself completing the task well with great form such as dunking a basketball or lifting a weight. Visualisation creates a neural pattern which you can then physiologically follow in the gym or on the track. It’s a well practiced technique by elite athletes such as Muhammad Ali who would tell himself over and over again before entering the ring; `I am the greatest`! The psychological aspect of sport is often overlooked yet can be a crucial factor in getting the best out of your training. Setting goals, visualising goals being achieved and seeing the details of these goals being achieved such as smell, sight, noise etc will all help you to achieve the goal in real life and through visualising success, you are more likely to mimic it by letting your mind work for you!