“I have discovered that numerous peak performers use the skill of mental rehearsal or visualization. They mentally run through important events before they happen.” – Dr. Charles Garfield
When I was a young, my mom always used to tell me that if I wanted to get better at something, I should lay in bed at night and visualize myself in that moment and succeeding. She used to tell me that if I just did it 25 times a night, it would make a difference. I will admit that there were nights where I would just fall asleep and say that I did them and other nights that I did so begrudgingly.
25 perfect swings. 25 perfect drag bunts. 25 routine ground balls. 25 free throws. 25 single pin spare conversions. 25 strikes right in the pocket. 25 of you name it.
Whatever I needed the most work on, that is what I did that night. Slowly but surely, I found that this visualization coupled with physical practice really developed my skills positively. Even when I was not able to get to a gym, field, or bowling alley to practice, I had a way to make myself better.
As I have gotten older and studied more about visualization, I have really come to appreciate those nights that I practiced my craft in my bed. Even though I did some of them despite not wanting to, I am now grateful that I did.
Studies have been done that have laid out the following scenario. Three groups were asked to perform a particular exercise (in this instance from a study in Research Quarterly, it was shooting free throws). Group 1 practiced shooting free throws for 20 days. Group 2 did not practice at all. Group 3 visualized missing a free throw, making the correction, and then making the shot for 20 days for 20 minutes.
The results showed that Group 1 performed 24% better, Group 2 did not improve at all, and Group 3 improved at a rate of 23%.
We are all aware that physical practice is essential to perform better. We get better with experience and learn from the failures we make while doing a particular task. Now, imagine if we could combine that physical practice with visualization. I think it stands to reason that our results could be even better.
Visualization provides us with a mental road map to our performance. It allows us to place ourselves directly in the situation beforehand and allow us to succeed. Then, when we find ourselves in that situation for real, we will be able to draw on our previous experiences from our visualizations and remain calm. We will not be overwhelmed because we have been there before. We will have an idea of what to expect and how to react. We will know what it takes to be successful because we will have experienced it already. We will be more easily able to stay in the moment and less likely to succumb to distractions and our surroundings.
My challenge to you today is that no matter what you have going on, visualize yourself in that moment and see yourself succeeding. Perhaps you have a big test. See yourself sitting down to take it, reading the questions, knowing all the answers, and writing them onto the paper. If you have a major presentation to give, imagine yourself delivering it flawlessly to an audience that is captivated by your every word. If you have a game, see yourself making every play that comes your way. Picture yourself coming through in each clutch moment.
Take 20 minutes or do it a defined number of times. Any visualization is better than no visualization.
If you see yourself succeeding, you will greatly increase the odds that you will get to experience that success as well. And the reality will be even better than you imagined.
Bring your best today!