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Sports Psychology - Visualizing Athlete's Ideal Performance

Written by Michael Cerreto

When competing, some athletes feel unprepared, as if they are experiencing a situation for the first time. While they know how to execute basic skills, they have difficulty reading situations in competition which can make them feel stressed and worried. One solution is to make sure everything about a competition feels familiar. One technique athletes can use to totally prepare their mind and body for competition is called previewing or visualizing.

Visualizing can be a powerful method to prepare for games by imagining the ideal performance you want to create as an athlete. You can also imagine yourself in a game situation you fear and visualize yourself successfully responding to that situation. In short, you need to imagine all of the details of the performance you want to create so, when you are in competition, everything seems familiar. The following provides you with the steps to preview your performance successfully before you are in competition or practice:

First, get your body into a relaxed position in a quiet surrounding, with soft music playing if needed

Second, start focusing on your breathing

Third, breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth


, breathe deeply a few times to fill up your lungs, and fully exhale

Fifth, start visualizing the performance you want to create for a game or match. Visualize the full game experience from the time you are getting dressed for competition to the time you arrive back home.

Sixth, use all of your senses when you visualize the performance: What do you see, hear, touch, smell and taste? By visualizing with all of your senses, you totally immerse yourself into every aspect of the performance you want to create.

Seventh, you can visualize the perfect performance on one occasion during a week, and visualize yourself successfully responding to an error or difficult situation during another session that same week. You should always visualize yourself being successful. Visualize before games and practices. Visualize your ideal performance at least three times a week and on the day of a competition.

When you mentally visualize the ideal performance you want to create, your body also responds in small, unnoticeable ways so you are preparing both your mind and body. As an athlete, the more you preview your performance, the better you will become at using this technique to prepare yourself for competition. If you are a parent or coach, you can teach your athletes how to preview practices and competition so you train their minds while training their bodies.

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