Your breathing is labored but under control and you savor the salty ocean and beach smell as the finish line comes into sight. You hear the crowds cheering for you, which gives you that extra boost to pick up your pace. You feel the sun on your face and your feet landing under your body on the boards beneath you. Everything seems to be in sync, your form is smooth and effortless. You start to kick it in as you get closer and closer to the finish line. And just as you get there, you raise your arms in victory and smile, not just for the cameras, but because of the satisfaction of completing what you started and what you trained so diligently for. You are a triathlete!
Did you feel that? Where you able to see, hear and feel yourself crossing the finish line of a race at the Jersey Shore? (Don’t worry, Snooki was not there.)
That’s visualization. And it’s an important tool for every athlete to use for their training and racing.
The physical training you have been doing is important, but don’t neglect the mental side of sport. The mind and body are connected. You could be a well trained athlete, but if you lack confidence or are anxious, then your training and racing will not reach the potential you are capable of. So use this tool to imagine yourself training and racing successfully. Also, use it to imagine what you would do in unexpected situations during a race (how would you carry out plan B?).
Visualization helps with:
- Learning new skills
- Improving existing skills
- Being able to handle unexpected situations during a race
- Improve focus
- Reduce anxiety & stress
Some points to remember while visualizing:
- Use all of your senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste & feel) and also include emotion.
- Don’t just watch, as if it were a movie, but see everything from your point of view
- Put some time aside to visualize. If you find it hard to visualize, don’t give up. Practicing it will help.