Mentally rehearsing tough spots in workouts or competitions can be a useful tool to beat those obstacles when you meet them in real life. Here's a formula to help you build an effective script for visualising success.
Photo by the US Army
Researcher Mary Quinton writes that the key elements of visualisation can be summed up in the PETTLEP acronym:
- Physical elements of your image, including the clothes and equipment you'll be wearing.
- The Environment where you're visualising this taking place, in as much detail as you can muster.
- Details of the Task you're trying to do. Include your mental state with all the things you'll be paying attention to at the time, and make sure that when you're performing the task in your head, you're doing it at a realistic level. In other words, don't imagine how an elite athlete would catch that ball; imagine how you, on your best day, could do it.
- The right Timing — real-time images work well, but you could also play your mental videotape in slow motion to break down a move you're trying to master.
- Reflect your Learning in your image. As you get better, your imaginary self should get better too.
- Include all the Emotions you want to feel. Don't envision yourself getting frustrated; instead, imagine when you meet a setback that you feel confident that you'll get over it.
- The right Perspective - first-person is a natural choice, but third-person can give a clearer view in some cases, for example your position relative to teammates.
Once you've scripted the perfect visualisation, you can do it any time: from the comfort of your couch, or standing on the sidelines before a game. Then, when you hit the obstacle you've mentally practised, breeze through it with the same confidence and skill you imagined.
Imagery in Sport: Elite Athlete Examples and the PETTLEP Model [Sports Psychology via Roller Derby Athletics]