How can imagery help you improve your confidence?

Nicole Westlund, PhD Candidate
Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
Mental Coach, Eclipse Performance

Being a competitive athlete myself, I know all too well the rollercoaster ride that is your confidence levels. I remember a few years back, when I found myself to be in a pretty big slump. There had been some major changes on my team and I ended up on the bench for the start of the season. I felt terrible and my confidence levels were next to zero. Nothing I did seemed to help and my play was awful. Commence the downward spiral: the worse I played, the less confident I felt; causing me to play worse… you know how it goes.

Spc1840SamuelVazquez

As a sport psychology student as well, I knew there had to be something that I could do to help break that vicious cycle. There has been a lot of research documenting how imagery can be a useful tool to improve the confidence of athletes and help them perform better. In looking at the research, here is a summary of scenarios you could imagine to help improve your confidence levels in your performance:

• Picture the feelings and emotions associated with being confident

• Imagine feeling relaxed

• Go through your pre-shot routine

• Always visualize complete performances – whether it is a full shot (start to finish)

or an entire race.

• Only visualize successful outcomes

• Practice how you would recover from a miss or a negative situation

• Visualize your best (past) performances)

For me, I found that using imagery to remind myself of previous performances where I played my best helped the most. Evoking those feelings of determination and confidence really reinforced to me that I am capable of performing to my standards and that I can get there again. It takes time, but with repeated practice, I know you can get there too!