Have ever been dreaming and in your dream you either fall or get hit? When this happened in your dream did you suddenly wake up in a jolt or felt like you just fell on your bed? Well this is your a result of your brain convincing your body that what you are dreaming about is actually happening.
This is how I was taught to look at the process of Visualization. Our goal is convincing our body that we are physically doing something with just the power of our mind!
In this TED Talk Kenn Dickinson talks about 2 secrets of elite athletes, one of them being Visualization. If you listen to the talk you will here of a story that demonstrates the power of visualization. The biggest thing that I took from this video was the attention to the little details. Now when I do visualization for my self each week I am constantly looking for the little details in each of my scenarios.
For example: Let’s say I am visualizing my self coaching in a big match with my team. Instead of just visualizing the outcome of the game I go into even more detail. Here are a couple things that I visualize.
- First I go through warm-ups with my team, from stretching to the national anthems, and into the team room for a pre-game speech. I feel the high fives that I give to each player as they get announced, I see the details on my clip board of my scouting report and take my seat to prep for the first point.
- During the match I see more than just what happens during the game, I hear the refs blowing the whistle, I make coaching changes like I normally would, I hear and see the crowd getting involved.
- We end the match and I go through the post match routine, always shaking my coaches hands first, then shaking the other teams hands, maybe talk to a few friends or family, and lastly meeting with my team before they leave the venue.
So why do this? Well by getting these mental reps I am prepping my mind to handle the situation when it presents itself. I am Making it Real.
Whether you are visualizing a sporting event, a practice, or even something more personal in life the details matter! By getting very detailed with this you make it more realistic. The more realistic that you make your visualization the less it will feel like a dream or fantasy. When the real life situation finally comes about you will feel like you have been there before and feel more comfortable in the situation.
Visualizing With Your Team
In sports visualization is a great tool to use with your team of any age! There are some challenges that come with it so hopefully these tips can help you!
- Make it a part of your routine: By doing this the team will be expecting you to do visualization. I implemented Monday Morning Visualization with my team last year and they responded well to it. The next season I did not continue it and I had a couple of the returners reach out to me to do it again. This told me that they enjoyed it being a part of our weekly routine and it was important to our team’s growth. Be consistent when you do it! Monday mornings was what worked best for us, it allowed us to set our minds for a great week of practices and matches! When ever you choose to do it, make sure that you stay consistent!
- Embrace the resistance: Lucky for me I work with college athletes that are very invested in what they do. However, when I introduce them to visualization I always say to respect the process. Even if they do not think that it will help them I tell them to still close their eyes and be a part of the team. I even tell the group that they can take a nap while I walk them through what we are doing. Maybe the ideas and scenarios that I am guiding them through sneaks into their minds anyway and they begin to visualize with out them knowing. Sure, it may take more than one time for them to try it out but at least they still are being a part of the group!
- Have your content ready: I have tried to do visualization both ways, first by just going off what I have in my head at the moment and second by writing out points that I want to make sure I talk about. I will usually have a theme or saying for the week and talk to the team about what this may mean to them as individuals and as a group. Once I complete the points about the idea or theme I then get into the on the court thoughts. I talk them through situations, giving them little details to help them make it real. Then I always wrap up the session by telling them to complete what ever it is on their mind and when they are ready to open their eyes and be ready to start working
- Add your own personal touch: This year I did something different than the year before. Since I am doing this with my volleyball team I did 2 things: I had the players find a spot ON the court and I also made them hold a volleyball. By doing this I took it a step further than just visualizing the details, I implemented some physical components. The players were right where they would actually be in their visions and they were holding the ball so they could put some feeling to those visions as well.
These tips will help you implement visualization to both your own routine and bring it to the teams that you coach. If used properly it can be very effective in the journey of your team. Make sure to learn from each session, adapt to what you see in yourself and your team, and stick with it even if there is not instant gratification! By doing all of this any time that you visualize you will be making it REAL!