Imagery for the Competitive Athlete

Three periods of time where athletes can use imagery in order to produce optimal performance

By: Pamela Verhulst, ESS Adjunct Professor

Do you want to produce optimal performance as an athlete? Follow these three imagery steps that can help you succeed.

  1. Set Realistic Goals

Goal setting comes from within the athlete. Establish clearly defined goals and write them down. Practice reading your performance goals daily. This reinforces the goal and allows the athlete to start the process of figuring out how they can actually achieve this goal.

  1. Visualization

Practice seeing your goals in your mind. Visualize your senses, feelings and emotions that give you the same experience during a successful performance. Visualize the external environment, as well as the athletic skill environment Do this up to two times per week. I recommend you do it in a quiet, practice location. Try to stay relaxed and confident throughout each session.

  1. Positive Self-Talk/Reinforcement

Staying positive is the most important tool to optimal athletic performance. Reprogramming negative thoughts into positive is what sports performance coaches call positive self-talk. This eventually changes an athlete’s negative image. Positive self-talk statements can be practiced daily and silently, by reading and writing thoughts down, and by listening to these thoughts on tape.

Putting these three steps all together can produce greater self-confidence for athletes, both individually and in team settings. Goal setting, visualization and positive self-talk have been a tremendous help to athletes and coaches across the world in producing optimal performances.