Utilizing Imagery to Prepare

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September 4, 2017

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Have you ever been able to see yourself perform some event in your mind’s eye and event almost like replaying a movie on the DVR? What about the opposite looking into the future directing a movie of yourself performing before you play? If you have I might ask you if you see yourself from a bird’s eye view or if the movie is being played through your own eyes. This ability we have to imagine (fantasy) or ‘image’ (realistic) our performance is something that I have found most helpful but I never realized until my masters’ career in Ironman Triathlon how I could use this ability to truly learn faster and accomplish more.

The challenge this week is all about helping you develop your ability to create an effective image. Think of this challenge as a good practice session that you can use at any time to help control and develop your performance imagery.

Now, this process can be used for any type of event and any length of the event. The script could be based on a very small period of time like the start of a swim event or the face off of a lacrosse game. It can also be used for a much longer period of time like a complete marathon where the script highlights the strategy the athlete wants to integrate over the course of the event. However, for the purpose of this challenge, make the event of the image be the minutes around the time of the start of the competition. For example, if you are a golfer you might create this script around the approach to the first tee through the end of the first shot. If you are a triathlete, you might script out the approach to the starting line through to the first 400 meters of the swim.

The challenge: Write a 2 page (hand written) script of a performance event of your choosing (IE soccer goal shot, lacrosse face off, baseball first at bat, football first play, etc…) following the 3 rules of imagery to the best of your ability.

The 3 rules of imagery:

  1. Use all 6 senses! – The more vivid an image that you can create the greater the signal strength between body and mind.
    • Wait, aren’t there only 5 senses? Yes, however, keep in mind what I like to call the ‘feelers’, the sensor inside your body. The feeling of confidence or the energy coursing through the body or the warmth of the muscles etc…
  2. Your Process – Choose the most optimal process for you throughout the event. Remember you are writing YOUR future, make sure it is exactly the way you want it to be from the way you feel, to the focus you have, to the process you follow.
  3. Your Outcome – End the image in a place where the previous process results in an outcome that is exactly the way you want the event to end.

Again, remember that you are effectively creating your future. You get to decide exactly how each moment is before it happens. Make the first draft of your imagery script then work through it once or twice adding or subtracting elements to make it as vivid and realistic as possible. You know when you have a great script when you can feel yourself going through the motions of what you are reading. The script being read should make you move with how descriptive it is. If you do not feel anything when reading it, take what you have written and keep making it more descriptive following the 3 rules of imagery.

Here is a script I wrote to prepare me for faceoffs when I played for the University of Utah.

My crosse lives with the heart and soul I have given it. It is my arm, my wrist, my fingers, my blood. Every knot, every lace, every strip of tape feeds off of the energy that resides within me. We turn to our defense and they shout encouragement, I look my goalie in the eyes and he nods a trusting nod.  My eyes close; a pulse of blood flows through our veins; Sounds stops and the crowd goes silent; I jump to shake the nerves from my body, eyes shut, neck cracks leaving tension behind, eyes open, I then turn to see my opponent, check hand position, make the decision, feet stable, eyes shut – “AS ONE”- I am ready: Down is called; another pulse, my feel relaxes, thought stops, eyes open; the all too familiar sound screams; instinct takes over; my moment occurs and the ball settles in the pocket as I whip and throw my stick like a boy on a twisting roller coaster screaming and laughing with his arms in the air. Tracking the ball as my only target, no thought of competition. Possession. My body feels like a train wreck as I run off the field. Seconds/Minutes later the whistle blows; a goal; I walk calmed back to that small patch of earth that I consider to be mine; I read the inscription on the back of my stick; “Take or be Taken”; energy flows from the words there in, and I feel; My crosse lives with the heart and soul I have given it…

A few notes: This script will help you perform an event that is to happen in the future. However, we can also reimage events that have happened in the past. These images can be of great finishes or performance. They can also be of bad moments, crashes, or failed attempts. If you find that you image these negative or unsuccessful performances often then I will ask you to refocus on a more positive image. The effect of the image will occur with both good AND bad images so you must learn to control the images you show yourself.

There is a much larger process to ‘re-imaging’ events but start your imagery practice by developing an imagery script mentioned in the text above. If you feel like your images are uncontrolled and are hurting your performance, it might be time to get in touch to do something about it!


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