Visualization is not just for athletes. Mental Rehearsal has been proven to be effective time and time again for professional athletes, but its positive influence can help any person achieve their goals. Whether you are an athlete, entrepreneur, healthcare professional, public speaker or a stay-at-home mom, visualization can help you improve your performance or even become person you want to be.
What is Visualization?
Visualization is also known as Mental Rehearsal or mental imagery. It is practicing or envisioning the desired outcome in your mind to realize that outcome in the real world. It is a technique that is widely used by athletes and other performance-based professionals like musicians. However, its practical applications go far beyond physical performance. A research study on Psychological Imagery in Sport and Performance shows how any individual, regardless of their age, gender, or skill level, can use imagery to achieve emotional and professional goals of any kind.
Why Should You Use Imagery?
Russian scientists conducted a well-known study that clearly shows the value of mental rehearsal. The scientists compared four groups of Olympic athletes in terms of their physical to mental training ratio:
- Group 1– 100% physical training
- Group 2– 75% physical training:25% mental training
- Group 3– 50% physical training:50% mental training
- Group 4– 25% physical training:75% mental training
One would most likely hypothesize that Group 2 would perform the best since the majority of their training is still physical. But the results showed that Group 4 performed the best. This outcome shows that preparing the mind is actually more important than preparing the muscles.
Professional golfers Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus give credit to mental rehearsal or visualization for much of their success.
“I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head,” Jack Nicklaus said.
But even professional athletes take their visualization beyond physical performance. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky believed envisioning the pinnacle of a career could help you achieve it.
“We taped a lot of famous pictures on the locker-room doors,” Gretzky says. “Bobby Orr, Felix Potvin, John Beliveau, all holding the Stanley Cup. We’d stand back and look at them and envision ourselves doing it.” Wayne Gretzky realized that visualization four times.
How Can Visualization Improve Your Career?
Early in his acting career in the 1990s, Jim Carrey was struggling to make end’s meet. One day, he had the urge to write himself a check for $10 million. He dated it for 1994, added the memo “acting services rendered”, and kept it in his wallet. 1994 came, and so did his contract for the movie Dumb and Dumber. His role in the movie paid exactly $10 million.
Believing it is possible is the first step. Visualizing is the next step, followed by perseverance. Actualization is the result. Jim Carrey believed it was possible, visualized his success every day he saw that check in his wallet, and then his dream was actualized.
How Can Imagery Improve My Physical and Emotional Health?
The power of imagery gives anyone the ability to improve their physical and emotional health. Building upon the athletic success gained through imagery, a study was published in The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine that explored visualization´s effect on healthy and injured participants. The study showed that even patients who were unable to train physically still showed improvement in not only movement but also muscle strength. Essentially, visualizing their muscles working actually made them respond.
Emotional health can be improved in the same way through mental imagery. Bruce Lee used visualization to help him become one of the most famous martial artists in the world. But he also used his creative imagination to achieve a zen-like lifestyle.
Bruce Lee said, “I have a system of ridding my mind of negative thoughts. I visualize myself writing them down on a piece of paper. Then I imagine myself crumpling up the paper, lighting it on fire, and burning it to a crisp.”
Mental Visualization Can Improve All Areas of Your Life
You may have caught on in this article that professional athletes use visualization in all areas of their life, not just in their sports training. Athletes have the advantage of seeing measurable, tangible results of their visualizations come to life. With such real-life affirmation, they then apply it to all areas of their life. But you don’t have to imitate the gruelling physical training they do to learn the same lesson. You can apply the same visualisation methods they use to improve your professional and personal life.