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The Power of Visualization in Sports

What is Visualization?

I am believer in the power of positive visualization.

It’s a skill, that when properly embraced can build confidence and lead to success in practice, competition and life.

As a collegiate athlete in the 1980’s at the University of Delaware, we were introduced to visualization. I was not very good at it...

I was a sophomore, at a low point in my career… I went from a key contributor my freshman year to limited bench player.

My confidence was low...

Every night when I closed my eyes and tried to visualize my game, my visualization led to disappointment...

In my mind, I would enter the game, have a turnover, hear the buzzer and be pulled out of the game. No one ever checked in with me to ask how it was going and if it was working.

Today, the experiences that my athletes have with visualization are much different.

We teach what to visualize and how to do it. We don’t leave the visualization process to chance.

During the summer of 2016, I worked with a Division 1 scholarship golfer on mental skills training. One of the skills we introduced was how to effectively use visualization.

We introduced the concept of mentally playing his home collegiate course on a daily basis. He had struggled with the back nine holes of the course, so I asked him to tell me about his past rounds of golf on the course.

Over the play of several rounds, he had birdied every hole on the course during the prior season. Together we talked about mentally playing the back nine holes, specifically replaying the birdies he shot on each hole.

I challenged him to recall what he wore, what the weather was like, how he felt for each of the holes on the back nine, etc.

Effective visualization engages all of the senses.

His assignment: To mentally play the course throughout the week.

One week into the process we checked in; I asked how it was going.

He said, “Great.”

He had mentally played four rounds and could see the power of the process. He added this mental training routine to his physical training routine. He embraced the process completing over 30 to 40 mental rounds before returning to campus.

Late August 2016 I received a text from him:

“Just wanted to let you know I played my first round of golf today on my home course. I shot a 66, for 6 under. My best ever round.”

I was really proud of his work effort and happy for his success.

If you can visualize your success and replay your success it’s a powerful tool.

For the athlete willing to add mental training into their physical training the rewards can be great.


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