Nicole Westlund, PhD Candidate
Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
Mental Coach, Eclipse Performance
So far, all of my posts have focused on the various ways that imagery can be used to help you prepare for your sporting performances. That is just one small piece of the puzzle. Another important way that you can use imagery (and probably already do) is to use if after a performance to help you review how you did.
In curling, my team always holds debriefing meetings following every game we play. We want to discuss the things we did well and what did not, so we have an idea of what to work on going forward. So how does imagery fit into this?
To recap, my previous posts have discussed the use of imagery for the following characteristics of performance:
• Specific sport skills
• Arousal levels
• Performance preparation
In my team meetings, we frequently go over key game strategies and tactics that occurred during that game and discuss how we thought we handled it. I find myself using imagery a lot in this case to visualize myself back in that situation in order to understand the discussion.
In another example, maybe you just changed part of your technique for this latest competition or race. Using imagery, you can go back and decide whether you maintained the change and think about how you felt while performing. If it did not go so well, you can pinpoint where there may have been a breakdown in your technique and then can work on improving it for future performances.
I believe that performance review is an important, yet sometimes forgotten aspect of mental preparation, as it is very important to evaluate what worked and did not work. With this said, if you are reviewing a negative aspect of your performance – maybe when you dropped a pass during the game – it is important to visualize how you would correct it, and do it properly the next time.
Always focus more of your time on positive performances as your brain will lay down stronger pathways for the memories you spend more time watching!