Imagery

Mental imagery, alternatively referred to as visualization, mental rehearsal, and mental practice is viewed by coaches and researchers as one of the most important psychological skills (1). It is considered a multidimensional process that refers to “an experience that mimics a real experience” (p.389) (2). Although the term imagery makes one think of sight, this psychological skill actually incorporates all senses, including, olfactory, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic. Because sport is a physical process, many researchers have stressed the importance of incorporating the kinesthetic sense as it involves feeling the sensation of bodily movements (3). Researchers have reported that the more senses you include, the more realistic it is to the actual experience, which will result in greater benefits (3). Mental imagery can be practiced from either an internal (e.g., experiencing the sport through your own eyes; what do you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel?) or an external (e.g., watching yourself perform the activity as if you were a spectator) perspective. Essentially, using mental imagery provides athletes with the idea that they have already lived that experience (practiced it) which may improve their performance or yield other beneficial results, such as boosting their confidence for the actual competitive experience (e.g., a race or game).

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