Dr. Jack Llewellyn is a renowned sports psychologist that gained national acclaim for the work he did with John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves and Paul O’Neill of the New York Yankess. We are big believers in visualization at LSU and are currently look at ways to better utilize this process. Dr. Llewellyn’s book “Coming In First,” has an entire chapter on visualization and here are some of the key points:
Match two people with equal physical talents in a competitive encounter, and the person who performs stronger mentally will win most of the time.
Mental practice is an extremely valuable tool. It is used for two primary purposes. First, it enables you to review your competencies, to motivate you and to give you a picture to guide you in executing, and that’s the way it is commonly used. Mental practice is also useful as a learning tool. With this tool, you actually can learn a skill or you can learn sales techniques or many other things. Basically, if you can see what you want to do in your mind, then you can execute it mentally, practicing until you “package’ the skill.
One of the most significant impacts of mental practice is an attitudinal change. Positive anticipation of an event at least provides an opportunity for success. People can foresee and be prepared for the consequences of their actions if they have worked through the visualization process and anticipate the consequences of their actions.
A pitcher who is able to step back from the mound, take a deep breath, visualize the next pitch — which takes about three seconds — then step up and throw that pitch, has more confidence and motivation. Visualization becomes an incentive to perform better, and many times the results will be consistent with the visualization.
One of the top international tennis coaches, Dennis Van Der Meer, once defined true visualization at a tennis clinic. “True visualization is when you can see it in color.”
The whole visualization process means that you mentally see performance from beginning to end. You don’t just see the end result.
True visualization is seeing everything from start to finish — and don’t ever leave out anything. With the whole sequence in mind, you can make corrections in your performance, or make adjustments in how you are communicating with people.
Visualization is most effective if you can have yourself — videotapes — everyone needs a video tape of his or her performance is possible.
The Mechanics of Visualization
1. Always see yourself executing correctly.
2. Always mentally see correct techniques
3. See everything involved in every part from start to finish. Repeat: every part from start to finish. “See it in color!”
4. Visualize the action at actual speed. If you omit parts or you can’t visualize clearly certain parts, then go back and start over. Don’t every muddle your way through and store incorrect material.
5. Remember you are trying to develop total confidence and mental consistency. That’s your goal in visualization.
6. Repeat the mental practice several times during each session. Do not mentally practice one time and execute. Mentally practice several times, and don’t rush. This deliberate visualization will enable you to set yourself up so that you are motivated and you have an incentive to execute. At that point, you almost get anxious to execute.
7. When you reach the place where you are going to execute your skills, visualize everything just before performance.