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We spend hours training our body, whether it’s running the streets or the trails, cycling the hills, swimming laps in the pool or pushing weights in the gym.

 

But when was the last time you trained your brain?

Positive visualisation

 

There’s plenty of evidence out there that suggests that time spent working on positive visualisation can benefit your performance significantly.

 

In a 1967 study, run by Australian psychologist Alan Richardson, three random groups of students were selected to shoot hoops in basketball.

 

One group practiced free throws every day for 20 days. The other two groups practiced only on the first and last days. However, one of the two non-shooting groups spent 20 minutes every day carefully visualizing successful shots.

 

Visualisation led to gains similar to practice

 

At the end of the experiment the non-practicers hadn’t improved at all, while the group who practiced every day improved their success rate by 24%.

 

That’s not such a surprise, but the stand-out fact from the study was that the visualizers managed to improve their own success rate by 23%. That’s nearly as much as the group who practiced every day!

Tips for Positive Visualisation

 

There are many different ways to apply visualisation yourself. It may be that your goal is to improve your skiing on steep slopes, or perhaps you want to set a new PB in the local Parkrun.

 

Techniques that work across the board – for any sport or challenge – include:

 

  • See yourself in the 3rd person – watch yourself cross the finish line with the clock at a certain time, or see yourself skiing successfully down the slope.

 

  • Make it specific – create an image in your mind that replicates the environment that you’ll be racing or skiing in as accurately as possible. If it’s the London Marathon, see yourself running up The Mall and under the finish gantry exactly as you’ve seen it on TV. The details are crucial.

 

  • Combat negative thoughts with positive ones – if you’re in a race or on a slope, you might let a negative thought cross your mind (e.g. ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m feeling tired’). If this happens immediately cancel it out with a positive thought. Whatever your mind throws at your, counteract it with the opposing positive thought.

 

Whatever your goals, think positive – in advance and during your event – and you could be surprised with the results!


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