Imagery

BY DR. VIRGINIA SAVAGE FOR FLORIDA TODAY

It is impossible to know what you are capable of doing, or being, until you can imagine the possibilities. Before Roger Bannister ran a 4-minute mile in 1954, it is widely believed that everyone thought it impossible. Yet, only 46 days after his accomplishment, his rival John Landy, broke that record by two seconds. Once these two men demonstrated the possibility, people BELIEVED it was possible and the image took shape for many to follow.

This is true for everyone, including YOU. You must first imagine what you want and then believe that it is possible. Once the seed of desire has been planted, the image is created in your mind. All that is needed is to allow it to grow in detail and complexity.

As a soccer player you must SEE yourself heading the ball and FEEL the impact of a solid hit in the right direction. You SEE a teammate receive the pass and you FEEL yourself racing to position yourself for a goal kick. You run and re-run each scene as if you are both observer and participant in your own movie. You are fully engaged in the imagination of your senses. You smell the grass and feel the sweat of your jersey clinging to you. The crowd roars encouragement and you feel charged with confidence. You sense the growing power and speed within you, as you surpass all expectations to achieve all that you have imagined is possible.

The process of imagery is one of the most powerful mental tools at our disposal, yet it is the one least practiced or utilized. Imagery is more often “wishful thinking” than an intentional practice of a skill. Distractions and thoughts of failure can disrupt and undermine the image. Improper training makes athletes lose faith that it can really work.

Yet, when imagery is taught well and practiced consistently, the muscles act as if they have already been designed for perfect play. The brain has been wired to send the right signals and the body responds.

Aristotle once said, “The soul never thinks without a mental picture.” Let your soul do its work now. Practice the skill of creating the image you want. SEE yourself playing the game as you wish to play. FEEL yourself achieving all of your goals in mastering the game. Delight in recovering from mistakes of the past. And celebrate your successes as you have never done before. Stop worrying and start using your imagination. BE the player you want to be. Just imagine.