Enhance Your Sports Performance with Mental Imagery and Cool Thoughts
Athletes learn early in their athletic careers how important focus and concentration are to their performance. Equally important, they learn that excessive anxiety or distractibility is a detriment to their performance. But because of the myth that if you visit a psychologist you have an emotional problem or even that you are "crazy", athletes may deprive themselves of a great learning opportunity. Many professional teams are now employing sports psychologists to assist athletes with their mental performance. Since the brain runs the body, the mental aspects of your performance are vital to your overall achievment as an athlete. Performance enhancement training is not psychotherapy. Psychologists can offer training in techniques to help with relaxation, focus, and concentration.
Learning to Use Mental Imagery Effectively
Most athletes have heard of mental imagery, but have never considered going to a professional for help in using it to enhance their performance. Many athletes naturally use mental imagery when they are training, and many coaches offer imagery training to their athletes during practice. However, there are skills offered by a properly trained psychologist that will further enhance your use of imagery. One to three training sessions suffice for most athletes to find their performance improved. Improvements we have seen include a decrease in fear or anxiety, a decrease in awareness of judges or other distractions, an increase in restful sleep prior to important sporting events, and enhancement of consistency from performance to performance.
Imagery to Help Heal
An additional benefit of mental imagery training applies to the injured athlete. Therapeutic imagery has been demonstrated to enhance healing of minor injuries and aid in pain control, as well as facilitating recovery from surgery in the case of major injury. Just as important to you as an athlete, however, is that you can mentally rehearse your skills while recuperating, maintaining your muscle memory and technique, so that there is less decrement in performance when you are able to return to training.
The Thinking Athlete
Another aspect of your athletic performance is what you are thinking. If you are thinking that it would be terrible if you did not win this point or accomplish that goal, or that you are a loser and a failure if you miss this shot, or that you couldn't stand it if you fell yet again, you are talking yourself into anxiety, upset, and a poor performance. If you are thinking that the coach should not have given you that command or that the other team made you look bad or that it would be awful if another player outscored you, then you are talking yourself into anger, jealousy, and a bad outcome. If, however, you are able to continually accept yourself, tell yourself that any given performance is just one sample of your overall ability and training, and that you understand that sometimes even great athletes fall, and that even the coach will make mistakes sometimes, and that other competitors may indeed be better than you, you are giving yourself a much freer opportunity to excel. You are not your performance. It is important to learn to rate your separate behaviors rather than your being when you are performing under pressure.
Learn to Improve Your Performance from a Professional Today
The performance enhancement training at the Center for Conscious Living consists of training in the use of self-hypnosis to facilitate both relaxation and the use of mental imagery, as well as thinking for success. Athletes are taught how to relax both to facilitate falling asleep and to decrease excessive nervous tension prior to events. Imagery training can be done separately from relaxation training or in conjunction with relaxation training. Most individuals benefit significantly from both. With specific training in the use of mental imagery and calming self-talk, athletes are able to get the maximum benefit from their abilities.
We invite coaches, athletes, and parents of athletes to phone the Center for Conscious Living with their questions.