Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals. Phelps holds the all-time records for Olympic gold medals (23), Olympic gold medals in individual events (13), and Olympic medals in individual events (16).
Bob Bowman, who’s been Phelps’ coach since he was a teen, taught Phelps visualization as a part of his mental training. Bowman had Phelps watch a “mental videotape” of his races every day before he went to sleep and when he woke up in the morning. Phelps would visualize every aspect of swimming a successful race, starting from his release at the blocks to culminating in a winning celebration.
However, visualization isn’t just for elite athletes like Phelps, it can be used regularly as a part of your ongoing training program, with significant results.
This benefit was discovered by physiologist, Edmund Jacobson, when he had subjects visualize certain activities. Using sensitive detection instruments, he discovered subtle, yet very real movements in the muscles. These movements corresponded to the natural movements the muscles would make if they were actually performing the imagined activity.
Further research revealed, a person who consistently visualizes a certain physical skill, develops muscle memory. This helps them when they physically engage in an activity. A related study, by Australian psychologist Alan Richardson, confirmed the reality of the phenomenon.
Richardson chose three groups of students at random. None had ever practiced visualization. The first group practiced free throws every day for 20 days. The second and third group shot free throws on the first and twentieth day. Members of the third group spent 20 minutes every day visualizing free throws. When the students in group 3 missed a free throw, they mentally practiced making it before moving on to the next free throw.
On the twentieth day, Richardson measured the percentage of improvement in each group. The group that practiced daily improved 24 percent. The second group showed no improvement. The third group, which had physically practiced no more than the second, did 23 percent better—almost as well as the first group.
In Richardson’s paper on the experiment, published in Research Quarterly, it was pointed out that the most effective visualization occurs when the individual who is visualizing feels, hears and sees what they are doing. For example, feeling the ball leaving their hands, hearing the ball bouncing, and seeing the shot go through the net.
When competitive athletes slip into their zone, everything seems to work just right. Dr. Patrick Porter will help you get to that place where everything comes together. With the SportZone Series, you will learn to visualize yourself into a flow state, your own personal zone, so you can stay on top of your game. The zone is as easy to access as a deep breath, once you have mastered the mental keys.
Even champions train how to think. The BrainTap App makes sports improvements that much easier, by starting with your thought process. There’s over 700 guided visualizations for your listening pleasure. Just download the app, choose a session, and push play! Enjoy a complimentary Free Trial on the BrainTap App and see the results for yourself! For a FREE Trial Click Here!
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