Two days ago, I told you about an idea I found from Ironmind’s Milo magazine that I really liked.
(If you missed that one about injury prevention you can check it out here.)
Now, something I disagree with.
This is from an article on Mental Training for All Athletes by Evan Perperis, NSCA-CPT.
Overall, I like the article as it’s about one of my favorite subjects.
But I have a bone to pick with what Evan mentions with visualization:
“To take advantage of visualization, you need to imagine yourself in the action of your sport…You should try to make the visualization as specific as possible: don’t just imagine yourself standing on the podium but instead imagine yourself going through the specific actions that it would take to reach that podium. Just imagining yourself on the podium is called daydreaming and will not translate the same way that visualization translates.”
First of all: yes, specific visualization of the action, the lifts, or whatever you’re doing, is important.
But that doesn’t mean that seeing yourself on the podium is useless daydreaming!
Both can be useful.
In fact, it was this programming for the win (a combination of both of these) that I did for my strongman competition win a few years back. You can read about that here.
Visualization for sports is not only about seeing the action.
There are many, many ways of doing visualization.
And seeing things as “real” as possible isn’t even necessarily the best way either. That’s why it is important to understand the underlying mechanics behind visualization if you want to get great results with it.
It’s funny because in the next section of his article, Evan talks about “Reminders,” which are essentially what I refer to as anchors. Yet, he misses the idea totally that visualizing yourself on the podium could be every bit as strong, if not stronger, than the things he does mention.
My recommendation is to use visualization, and use it in multiple ways.
If you have no clue what I’m talking about, make sure to grab a copy of Mental Muscle.
There was a study done about the effects of visualizing the result of a goal compared to the actions required to achieve it. What they found was that if the participants didn’t follow through soon enough with action, their motivation would wane. In essence, people could get the feeling of success just by visualizing it instead of putting forth the effort to actually be living it. Since they got the high with no effort, they tended to not create any lasting change.
So while I agree with reminding ourselves regularly of why we need to sacrifice time and effort in the pursuit of our goals, it must be balanced, perhaps even outweighed, by blood, sweat and tears. Otherwise it just becomes “mental masturbation”.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I read about this study. I’ll have a look at my library and send you the details if I can find them.
If you do dig up that study, please do let me know.
I do agree. Action typically trumps visualization. But action and visualization combined typically trump pure action.