An Athlete's Mindset Tool to Implement In Your Life Today
If you’ve ever wondered how elite athletes perform at the top of their game, you’re in the right place. And guess what…the best news is you can do it too by implementing this technique in your life.
Jumping right in, the top mindset tool elite athletes use that everyone can benefit from is…VISUALIZATION.
What is visualization?
Also known as a mental rehearsal or guided imagery, this is a process of imagining various images of what you’d like to experience in a specific moment as well as all the other sensory stimuli (smells, sounds, touch, taste) that go along with the event for you.
Olympians have been using this technique for decades to train their mind as much as they physically train their body.
Imagine you’re in their shoes for a moment. You’re at a peak moment in your athletic career, the whole world is watching, and you’re going up against the absolute best of the best in a climate you’re not familiar with, equipment that is new to you, or a brand new course you haven’t been through before.
YIKES...talk about the performance anxiety that could creep in! This is why mindset training is imperative as a half second of doubt or questioning could cost them the gold or placing at all.
“The more an athlete can image the entire package, the better it’s going to be,” said Nicole Detling, a sports psychologist with the United States Olympic team.
The act of imagining a scenario stimulates the same regions in the brain when you perform the same task physically. This essentially primes the body, activates muscle memory, and gives you a feeling of familiarity and confidence of the task at hand before doing it.
The kicker about this tool is that you’re already doing it and have been for years!
However, without intentional guidance the brain tends to visualize negative or potentially catastrophic experiences instead of what you actually want to experience in your life.
When you repeat a positive or negative habit, it builds a stronger and stronger neural pattern in your mind, which is why it can feel so difficult to break “bad” behaviors at first that have become “automatic” after so many repetitions. The act of visualizing a new habit, event, or experience you’d like more of helps to chart new neural patterns to help make these new behaviors easier to initiate then the previous behavior you’re working past.
How to Begin Visualizing:
Start picturing habitual events in your life such as brushing your teeth or your drive to work to help you flex this new muscle before visualizing experiences you haven’t had before
Focus on capturing the smallest details from the texture and sensation of the floor on your feet when you first get out of bed in the morning to how your body feels walking to the bathroom to how your eyes adjust to the light to the feeling of the bristles against your teeth and so on
Next, pick an upcoming event, performance, or conversation that you’d like to feel more prepared for and create a specific goal of what success looks and feels like in this situation
Keeping all your senses in mind, with as much detail as possible walk yourself through the 3 phases of the event: preparation leading up to it, the event itself, and how you’ll celebrate and feel afterwards
Turn the dial up on all the feelings and sensations running through your body so you can really FEEL the event in your body ahead of time
Lastly, but most importantly, include challenges or difficulties that may arise throughout the event and how you’d like to persevere in the moment. The true power of visualization is not only in imagining positive outcomes, but creating the internal resources to deal with hardship in the moment and still perform at a high level.
What we focus on and give energy to GROWS.
Remember the brain will always create what it sees in an effort to serve you so make sure to refocus your mind on what you WANT to be experiencing in your life and not what you don’t want.
Have you ever used visualization in your life? I’d love to hear your personal experience with it or any challenges you faced so I can support you in the comments below!
I’ll be leading a guided visualization along with a goal setting session to create goals that are aligned with your values at a 5-hour wellness immersion at The Loft // J’adore Detroit on 9/22. Register here to join us and experience this in person! *Early bird pricing ends on 9/7
Always rooting for you,