Mental Training #3

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    You ever wonder how or if visualization will help you? Let me fill you in on how and why it works.

    Many studies over the past decade have looked at brain images. In many of these studies they can pin-point active parts of the brain and light them up with colors based on the intensity of the activity.

    Visualization techniques have been evaluated in many of these studies. What they have shown is that when a person visualizes his or her self performing a task, watches someone else perform a task, or actually performs the task, the requirements from the brain are essentially the same. No matter which of the three scenarios stated above is done, the same parts of the brain are active and thus colourfully highlighted.

    So what does this mean? It means you can do a lot of work on sports tasks and skills through visualization. For example, visualizing a race course for weeks before the actual event imprints the course into your brain as if you have already raced the course and allows you to re-do that perfect race on the actual day. You can bet the National Cross Country and Biathlon Team members go to bed every night visualizing themselves on that Whistler Olympic course performing at their best. They want to spend as much time on that Olympic course as possible. Since they live in Canmore, physically being on the course everyday is impossible. Visualizing themselves on that course is essential and will help them to truly take advantage of the elusive “home course advantage”.

    Visualizing yourself performing perfect technique is another way to take advantage of this. Since we also know watching others perform a task has the same effects on the brain, then spending time watching the best skiers in the world ski (or shoot for you biathletes) will help you. Take the time to watch the best race, download euro sport videos online and watch technique videos, it all helps!

    If you are serious about improvement and accomplishing your goals, visualization is a great tool and is easy to use.

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