Mental Rehearsal will help you gain your winning edge and boost your results
Dozens of world-class athletes cite visualisation or mental rehearsal as an essential practice in their mental preparation. Frequently, the difference between winning a medal and missing out can come down to a mere thousandth of a second.
Many experiments have illustrated the success of visualisation. One study, mentioned in “The Psychology of Winning”, by Dr Denis Waitley, studied free throw scores of three groups of high school basketballers. The first group, for a whole month, were instructed not to practise at all.The second group were told to practice shooting free throws for one hour every afternoon. A third group, instead, were instructed not to practise physically but to practise visually shooting baskets successfully for an hour every afternoon, for a month.
The group who only practised in their imagination improved their scores
In conclusion, at the end of the month, the first group’s average score slipped from 39% to 37%, (the control group.) The second group (who physically practised) improved their average scores from 39% to 41%. The third group, who only practised in their imagination, improved their average scores from 39% to 42.5%.
A similar experiment with basketballers was quoted by Maxwell Maltz in “Psycho-cybernetics.” In this experiment, one group of basketballers physically practised for 20 minutes a day while a third visualised only. The results found both physical practice and mental practice improved performance by 24% and 23% respectively.
Why does mental rehearsal work?
A key reason why mental rehearsal works are that memory and imagination use the same neurological circuits. Neurologically, your body can’t tell the difference between a ‘real’ experience, and a vividly imagined one. This means when you use visualisation, your brain is being activated in very similar ways to as if you were actually doing the event. You strengthen neural connections and as a result, connections are added or removed and new cells formed.
‘What you can imagine you can create,’ Einstein.
Embracing mental rehearsal in life and business will help your results. You have much to gain, whether it’s imagining yourself succeeding at a job interview, performing a new skill with precision or giving a winning presentation, you have much to gain.
You must commit to practice for this technique to be effective
The problem with this is that we find it hard to stick with it. Why is this?
Firstly, you have to commit to practice.
Secondly, not just vaguely imagining what you want, but with intention with a specific outcome.
Lastly, you must do this consistently, for around 10 – 20 minutes at a time.
Unfortunately, consistency and hard work are at an odd to our reptilian brain. Simply visualising a picture of what you won’t get you what you want. Performance Psychology has come up with a precise model for achieving maximum benefit from visualisation. I believe the following steps are also crucial for success:-
- Focus on feeling a positive feeling. If your goal is to win an award, it is important to connect with the sense of winning. When you do this your body produces positive chemicals that help you connect with the winning moment. If you are going for a job interview, feel the feeling of successl.
Ensure your thoughts are positive you are focusing on what you want.
- It is critical to keep your thoughts positive and focusing on what you want. If you allow your wayward mind to think about what might go wrong, or how you mustn’t be nervous or fluff the interview you will negate the benefits of your mental rehearsal. Your energy flows where attention goes. Make sure yours is going in the direction of your outcome.
- Be consistent. Like anything worthwhile in life, consistency and practice are crucial and are the sticking points for many people. Make your mental practice a priority. Schedule it into your diary and do it – whether or not you ‘feel’ like doing it. Stick with it and watch your results grow.
To discover exactly how to use mental rehearsal fully, and for other winning techniques, mind tools and action strategies, then subscribe to our newsletter and get a copy of “Your Winning Mindset.”
Or check out The Winning Edge Workshop for your team or business.