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Mental Imagery

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Managing Stress
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Mental imagery/rehearsal – Its story time

Write a story! Once upon a time I was about to compete in a big competition before the event I felt like….. just before I felt like……. During the competition I felt like……. After the event I felt like………. .

The whole idea behind this technique is to imagine all the possible scenarios, positive and negative, and all the possible feelings, positive and negative, associated with them.

I would suggest that any of the counterproductive feelings of stress and anxiety stem from the ‘great unknown’. If our mind has already experienced the stressful scenario in the comfort of our home, using mental imagery, then it is more likely that we will manage to manage the scenario when it happens for real.

There is also a psychoneuromuscular reason to imagine doing an action. According to the theory, if one imagines doing a sporting technique the nervous system and muscles react in a very similar way to when we actually do the action, thus mental imagery further improves our muscle memory of the action.

As you improve your ability to imagine yourself doing a sporting action you should begin to imagine that the way you feel and react to a scenario is positive. For example; a statement such as ‘just before a race I can hear my heart pounding and my palms are sweaty, I feel very nervous’ should be changed to ‘just before the race I know I am ready when I hear my heart pounding as it means the oxygen is getting around my body, and having sweaty palms shows I’m keeping cool and ready to compete.’

The mental imagery script can take a number of different forms. You don’t have to write a story! You could just talk scenarios through with your coach or a friend or with yourself, but remember you should always consider your feelings associated with each scenario. It should also be used in training, especially when training is mirroring competition.

You may also begin to identify when you need to calm down or get up for it, this maybe a time to put in place some further psychological tools, of which a few are outlined here.

   
 
   
 
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