Imagery is a psychological technique involving the production of vivid mental experiences by the normal processes of thought.
In sport, imagery is an extremely versatile technique used to:
- Earn and practice skills;
- Improve self confidence;
- Acquire the right frame of mind before competition;
- Promote relaxation and recovery after competition;
- And accelerate rehabilitation after an injury.
Imagery is a purely mental process. Through imagery, an athlete recreates past positive experiences or creates new experiences. Imagery can involve any sensory experience.
A recent study at the United States Olympic training center indicated that 90% of Olympic athletes used some form of imagery, with 97% of these athletes believing that it helped their performance. Using imagery as a mental training skill athletes have the ability to observe and believe, which fuels the confidence and the appropriate focus to perform successfully.
All athletes have the capacity to use imagery effectively, however many do not use it systematically and are unable to control and channel their images appropriately. The effectiveness of imagery can only be controlled through systematic and consistent practice.