By Madisen Carter
In today’s generation, athletes have many different tools they can use to help improve their physical game, whether that is a personal trainer, a shooting machine, or a vertical jump training program. But getting physically better is just half of the game, while the other half is an athlete’s mental game. Luckily, improving an athlete’s mental game can be done individually and at any time, whether that is before, during, or after practice, right when an athlete wakes up, or right before they fall asleep. One tool that has been beneficial for an athlete’s game on the court is practicing visualization.
According to encyclopia.com, “Visualization is used primarily as a training tool, one that improves the quality of athletic movement, increases the power of concentration, and serves to reduce the pressures of competition on the athlete while building athletic confidence.”
When practicing visualization, an athlete uses all of their senses to imagine success on the court, both offensively and defensively. Imagining specific skills and moves will help athlete’s translate those skills onto the court. It is important for athletes to always visualize positive thoughts and think about how the game will plan out.
Adding visualization to an athlete’s workout plan is beneficial because it increases concentration on the game, reduces pressure leading up to the game and enhances an athlete's ability to perform certain skills in different scenarios. When an athlete visualizes their success, it promotes confidence within themselves and leads to future success in the task they are trying to accomplish.
Visualization is part of the MVP’s that UPB pushes for the athletes to practice within their game. From Graham H. Betchart’s book, Play Present, MVP stands for meditation, visualization and positive self talk. When an athlete incorporates the MVP’s into their daily training, it enhances self confidence, motivation, and mental toughness.
“You control competing against the play you see in front of you. You can't control the past or a future play. Your vision gets you into the present,” Betchart said.
Visualization is a tool that can be worked on during every workout and be added to an athlete’s daily routine. As visualization is a part of the mental game, it does not come easy and takes a lot of practice. The more an individual incorporates visualization in their routine, the easier it will be to imagine success and translate it onto the court.
Six-time NBA Champion Michael Jordan said, “I always visualized my success… Seeing success before it happened put me in a positive frame of mind and prepared me to play the game.”
Visualization is another way for athletes to practice playing mindful. Playing mindful is extremely beneficial for athletes as it reduces stress, increases concentration, and helps an athlete gain confidence. Read more about playing mindful and how incorporating the MVP’s can benefit an athlete’s game.