Quarterbacks don’t take the snap planning to throw an interception. That’s not what’s on their mind.
Designated hitters don’t see themselves striking out and professional golfers on the PGA Tour don’t see themselves shanking balls into water hazards.
The images that elite athletes see in their minds are carefully developed, meticulously rehearsed, and relied on to help provide a competitive advantage.
Visualization techniques differ widely from sport to sport, and from athlete to athlete. Some athletes are skeptical, so their coaches attach different names to the process.
But the results can be dramatic.
When Danny Everett, a 1988 Olympic sprinting gold medalist works on visualization, he’s methodically weaving together the strengths of both mind and body:
Just before practice I do a certain amount of imagery in preparation for my day of workouts. That way, when I get ready to race, I’m already prepared. The night before competition, I also do imagery and visualization practice so I can get into the rhythm previously established during my workouts.
At an event in Germany 1990, Danny Everett set a world record in the 400 meter:
During the race I felt like I wasn’t evening moving fast. It felt like a comfortable jog around the track. It was easy, there was no struggle, and I felt a floating quality to the race, almost like I was in slow motion. I felt like I had been to that race in Stuttgart in those weather conditions in my mind already.
In one form or other, visualization techniques have been used by elite athletes since at least the 1930s. The competitor’s expectation to win, strengthened, supported, and reinforced with vivid images, reaches a new level.
Ready to learn more?
Find out the best way to begin your visualization exercises.
Improve your results and find out how to troubleshoot your visualization exercises.
Discover the fascinating history of visualization techniques.