- Develop an understanding of imagery or mental rehearsal
- Practice imagery techniques that will assist in generalising a specific skills and refining performance-specific skills
- Develop an awareness of the many perspectives that can be approached during an imagery exercise
- Apply imagery based techniques to individual performance situations with a focus on situations that may be difficult and challenging
- Utilise imagery and positive self talk together to optimise performance
Imagery is a mental skill commonly used by elite performers and is among the most important skills for managing the mental demands of performance. By regularly completing imagery exercises, participants are expected to stimulate their muscle memory and improve a skill during imagination.
- Participants will be able to manage performance situations by using their imagination
- Participants will be able to maintain aspects of their practice between training sessions or when they are too physically exhausted to train.
- Participants will have better confidence during performance as they regularly mentally rehearse competition scenarios
- Participants will be able to experiment with different senses during imagery exercises. Participants should be able to activate detailed sensorial areas by progressively and regularly practising with mental rehearsal
- Participants should be able to utilise imagery and positive self talk together to optimise their performance.
Open the lesson with discussion around what imagery or using your imagination means- have participants ever utilised their imagination and when? have they ever utilised their imagination in performance based situations? How and why? What impact did that have on how they felt and how they performed?
Read through ‘Practicing using your imagination’ on page 49 of the participant workbook. reinforce to participants that imagery is an important skill used by many elite athletes and performers as a way of rehearsing and planning for performance situations. Imagery is like a simulator in which you can rehearse what has happened in the past and what could happen in the future- you can simulate any scenario/ situation you like. Imagery can also be helpful in creating muscle memory and strengthening memory for a variety of actions which need to be undertaken in a performance situation. How might this be helpful for performance?
Discuss the importance of engaging with all of the senses when imaging a performance situation (ie. what can participants see, hear, taste, smell, feel?)- why would this be important? what might engaging all of your senses help you with? why would you want to imagine performance situations just as they are (eg. noisy, bright, busy)?
Discuss how imagery can take two different perspectives
a) An external perspective: in which you see an image from outside your body, as if you are watching yourself
b) An internal perspective: in which you see an image from behind your own eyes, as if you are actually in the situation or actually performing
Elicit discussion on which perspective participants usually take when they are using imagery- is there one perspective that the participant usually takes? why? do you ever use both perspectives? Why might it be helpful to use an internal/external perspective when imaging yourself in your performance situation?
Next, help participants move into a comfortable, safe and relaxed place- brainstorm with participants what things might help them be comfortable and why this would be so important during imagery sessions.
Discuss different scenarios participants might use imagery for (eg. exploring a new performance situation, performing under pressure, rehearsing new things) and read through page 50 of the workbook. For each scenario, spend time helping participants engage with the scenario and apply it to their own performance area.
Next, read through page 51 of the workbook and ensure all participants are comfortable and feeling relaxed and safe. Guide participants to imagine a normal performance situation. Are they using an external or internal perspective? what senses are they engaging, what are they imagining happening, what details are they seeing? Discuss participants’ imagery experiences with the group.
Brainstorm what was easy/difficult, helpful, interesting about the imagery activity?
Next facilitate discussion on the challenges of being an elite performer. What things do they have to do more of? less of? miss out on? find themselves worrying or becoming frustrated about?
Fill out examples of things that are tough on the ‘When it gets tough!’ section of page 52.
When it gets tough, generate discussion on what self talk/ comebacks they could utilise?
How could participants utilise both self talk and imagery for managing difficult and tough situations? how might they do this? what benefit might they see from utilising both strategies together? How would imagery be helpful in developing positive self talk? Reinforce that using imagery and self talk together can help elite performers achieve the best results.
- Finish the session on asking participants to imagine a challenging time they have had in their performance situation. What self talk could they use to get them through? What could they imagine doing to help them in the future? How can they use self talk and imagery to get them through? Discuss experiences with the group.
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