opert56 wrote:Muscle Memory: the Secrets of Mental Imagery.
You're sitting in deep, soft powder high in the French Alps. You're alone. The sky is blue, the air is cold and clean; you breathe in deeply, and it's absolutely silent. You can feel the texture of the perfect snow all around you. As you stand to take one last look down before you start, you feel your heart start to pound and the rush of adrenaline.
Only you’re not in the Alps. You’re in your living room. You’re alone. It’s absolutely silent. And you’re using the most powerful sports training technique that no one talks about. It’s what gives the world’s greatest athletes their winning edge. It’s easy. It’s free. It doesn’t care about your age, gender, ability or sport. And it can make you pull a 900 in the halfpipe without eating sh*t, drop in from the peak of the world’s tallest mountain with confidence and poise, and slide deep within the guts of a Teahupoo beast as if you were Laird Hamilton himself.
Some call it visualisation. “Or, more correctly, Mental Imagery,” says Geoff Lovell, action sports specialist and psychologist at the University of Gloucestershire. “You're actually doing more than just seeing. If you’re successful, you'll have smelt, heard and felt. Furthermore, you will have had some very important and strong emotions. MI is so much more than just pretending.”
Visualisation is a powerful preparation tool that can help you perfect tricks and master skills without taking trips to the airport, the equipment shop or the hospital. “When we mentally imagine a skill in our mind's eye, for example a big twisting jump on a snowboard, our brains go through exactly the same cognitive processes as when we actually do the skill,” explains Lovell. “Except the 'volume' of the nervous impulses sent down the spinal cord to the muscles are turned down.” Experts call it 'functional equivalence’, small nervous impulses that leak out to our muscles during MI, causing tiny muscular reactions. These ping your brain the same messages as if you were doing the trick for real.
How to Implement Mental Imagery
There is no correct way to practice mental imagery. It is all left up to individual preferences and the present circumstances. It can be done on or off the field, very short (within a few seconds or minutes), of a long duration, sitting up, lying down, in complete silence, with a stereo, eyes closed or they can be open. A shorter version of imagery is best implemented during matchplay. For example, a tennis player may take a few seconds to visualize him or herself hitting the perfect serve in the place where he or she wants. Or a quarterback can go through a play in his mind just before calling the play. Longer, specific guided visualizations are usually designed for a quiet room prior to competition. In this case, the player should be in a relaxed and receptive state in order for the image to go deeply into the mind. It is recommended to do visualization two or three times per week. Another way that many athletes practice imagery is during bike rides, lifting weights, rowing, etc. Since one is exerting physical energy while doing mental rehearsal, it helps facilitate actual competition. Some individuals are better at forming pictures in their heads than others
Here are some general principles to enhance imagery:
· Make the imagery seem as realistic as possible by including all senses, in full color and detail, within a similar emotional context
· Practice imagery regularly as it may take months before seeing improvement
· Believe that imagery works, as your attitudes and expectations enhance the effect
· Keep a focused yet relaxed attention while using imagery
· Internal imagery is most effective. Picture yourself actually accomplishing the feat (from your minds eye), rather than viewing yourself from the outside looking in.
· Only imagine perfection. This will boost your self-confidence and reinforce good habits.
In closing, imagery is a potent mental technique that will raise the level of your game if your basic skills and understanding of tennis are solid. Just don't let your opponent know what you're thinking!
Creative visualization is the technique of using one's imagination to visualize specific behaviors or events occurring in one's life. Advocates suggest creating a detailed schema of what one desires and then visualizing it over and over again with all of the senses (i.e., what do you see? what do you feel? what do you hear? what does it smell like?). For example, in sports a golfer may visualize the "perfect" stroke over and over again to mentally train muscle memory.
In one of the most well-known studies on Creative Visualization in sports, Russian scientists compared four groups of Olympic athletes in terms of their training schedules:
§ Group 1 = 100% physical training;
§ Group 2 - 75% physical training with 25% mental training;
§ Group 3 - 50% physical training with 50% mental training;
§ Group 4 - 25% physical training with 75% mental training.
Group 4, with 75% of their time devoted to mental training, performed the best. "The Soviets had discovered that mental images can act as a prelude to muscular impulses."
Here is a great example how affect visualization can be and can be done only a second:
Let's say 2 guys are learning how to kick the ball properly from a Pro. One guy just watches his instructor how to he kicks and he just does it and he's getting mad because he still doesn't get it, while the other guy watch he's teacher's moment of his leg and think
and picture in his mind that he's doing the exact position for a second, and he kicks and does it properly but still needs some practice.
If you actually think about it, you actually meet guys who wants to master the techniques but doesn't think and just does it. But this way, it will take more time and more practices, however when you actually visualize yourself doing this trick for a second or so, you can master it quickly, NO MATTER HOW HARD THE TRICK IS OR THE SKILL YOU ARE TRYING TO GET. REPLAY IN YOUR HEAD IN SLOW MOTION AND GET A CLEAR IMAGE OF ALL THE SENSES! IT'S THAT EASY!!!!!
However, some people will not get the exact clear picture.... This will take practice, however you get a very FASTER RESULT!