Athletes at all levels have used visualization for decades to mentally prepare for an event. The mental preparation and self -talk is powerful in getting and keeping your head in the moment. In contrast, negative self- talk can psych yourself right out of the prize. What about the weekend warrior? Is the time spent on visualization and meditation just as effective? Absolutely. Not only on the playing field, but there is also a positive carry over into family and work settings. How to begin?
- Find a comfortable chair or lie down (but not with the intention of napping!). Place your bare feet on the floor, legs uncrossed, spine supported and arms relaxed.
- Close your eyes. Soften the muscles around your eyes and mouth.
- Bring your awareness to your breath. Notice the breath and your chest rising and falling as you inhale and exhale. Continue and soften all body parts, letting go of tension in the shoulders.
- Now bring your focus to your sport. Visualize yourself playing in top form. Rehearse your successful performance over and over. Give yourself positive feedback. (examples: “I feel good.” “I am accomplishing this.” “I have the strength to complete this.” “I can do it.”)
- Then return to your breathing pattern.
Taking the time to focus on the mental aspect of sports performance is a piece of training that is as vital as the strength and technique components. How many events or games have been lost due to mental errors? Countless. We see it each week in a variety of arenas on TV. Practicing visualization and mindfuless techniques where we stop and become conscious of each action we perform helps to process the many obstacles that are hurled at us each day. It reduces anxiety, stress, blood pressure and heart rate. And, it lessens our reactivity to stressful situations. We think and see clearer. It hones your mental focus for your sport but you’ll soon find added benefits in the workplace and home life. Practice time: start with five minutes a day.