By Dr. Sarah Gairdner
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has been known to request the club kit details for the following days match (including the colour of the shirts, shorts and socks). He requires this level of detail in order to enhance his ability to produce an accurate visual image in his mind, a huge part of his psychological preparation for upcoming games.
“I lie in bed the night before the game and visualize myself scoring goals or doing well,” he once revealed. “You're trying to put yourself in that moment and trying to prepare yourself, to have a 'memory' before the game.” Having a clear understanding of which kit he will be wearing allows him to create a detailed and rich image, which translates into better mental preparedness. “I don't know if you'd call it visualizing or dreaming, but I've always done it, my whole life.”
High performers regularly use imagery to help them prepare for big events. In this case, Rooney uses imagery to create or rehearse a positive mental experience in order to enhance his ability to achieve a successful outcome in real life. It is important to consider both the process (using technical skills on the field of play, careful dribbling and passing) and outcome (completing a goal task successfully, winning the game) when using this technique to increase your confidence and improve your performance.
One key to making this technique work is to use all of your senses… Can you smell the freshly cut grass and sweat from your uniform? Can you see the bright lights and vivid colours in the stadium? Can you hear the fans cheering, and the sound of your teammates and coaches communicating? Can you feel your cleats on the grass and your uniform grazing your skin? The more detail you can conjure up the better, as research shows that successful imagery requires creating the most accurate and realistic depiction of your environment as possible.
Today's POWER-UP: Ready, Set, Write!
Create a short film in your mind which exemplifies your journey to successfully achieving your goals. Perhaps it is a well-executed swim race, or a powerful shift in hockey… maybe it is a ‘stuck’ beam routine. Tell the story of what it looks like, feels like, sounds like, and smells like to be out there in the pool, or rink, or gymnasium, successfully completing your ideal performance.
Start from the beginning... What is it like in the locker room? During your pre-performance warm-ups? Once you get into the flow of the swim, game or routine? Completing the event successfully and being announced as champion?