Gain an advantage over your competitors by mastering sports visualization.
Learning how to harness your thoughts and emotions is a powerful technique for athletes to have in their back pocket. It changes your whole approach to the game and will also help you in school and later in life.
Definition of Visualization
First, let’s define visualization. Visualization can be described as guided imagery, mental rehearsal, or mediation.
Sports visualization is the process of creating a mental image or intention of how you want your body to move or what you want to happen while playing sports.
The benefits of sports visualization:
- increased confidence
- lower anxiety
- greater focus
You are essentially training your brain to react faster in a moment where you have to make a quick decision during a game.
Sports Visualization Techniques for Tweens & Teens
Start by studying one of the play sheets your coach gives you. Memorize where you will start on the court. Run through the process of the play with your eyes open looking at the paper or screen. Memorize where you will end up on the court at the end of the play as if the play was run successfully.
Now close your eyes. Imagine the play on the paper or screen. Can you see the x’s, o’s, and arrows?
The next step is to imagine yourself on the court running the play successfully. Run the play inside your mind’s eye at both ends of the court. If you play more than one position, run the play in each position.
There is muscle memory and then there is mental memory. When you combine both you should be able to run your plays very efficiently.
Use your senses
Close your eyes and describe frame by frame, like in a movie, shooting a basketball through a hoop.
Draw attention to every small detail in that activity. Imagine what the leather basketball feels like, the smells inside the arena. What taste do you have in your mouth? Imagine the sounds coming from the court. What do you hear from the coach? Are the other players communicating with you? What does the crowd sound like?
Now, slow down the movie. “Watch” it again. What new details do you notice?
As the movie ends, the last frame will be a successful end to the basketball move or the basketball game.
Go over drills you have done in practice. Imagine that each time your perform the drill you are making the basket. Think about what your arms are doing. See what your legs are doing. Think about where you are aiming. Is it the front of the rim or is a spot on the backboard? Envision what your hand is doing. Run the drill a few times in your mind as if you are the only one on the court.
Next, take that same drill and add one opponent. Practice the drill. Every time you are making the basket and beating the opponent. Run the drill at least five times.
Lastly, take the drill and put 10 players on the court. Imagine your teammate passes you the ball, perform the drill you practiced in the game. You are faster, smarter, more agile than the other team. You make the basket. The crowd roars! Run this mental movie through your mind at least five times.
Remember that feeling you get as you travel to the hoop. Notice the feeling you get when you make the basket. Thinking positively privately before you fall asleep allows you to believe that you can recreate the drill in real life during your match.
Use these techniques to fully round out your basketball game. All sports are both mental and physical. Visualization takes time and practice. Good luck!
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