The Power of Visualisation

For the past half year I have spent a lot of time researching books or articles on how to visualise. In laymen’s terms, it means:

Recreating all the images, sounds and feelings in your mind surrounding an activity in order to practice in a perfect environment.

One of numerous examples on how powerful this tool can be, can be demonstrated by a study carried out by Dr. Biasiotto, at the University of Chicago.

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A basketball team was split into three groups, who were then tested on how many free throws each group could make.  After the test he had:

  • The first group practice free throws every day for an hour
  • The second group just visualised themselves making free throws.
  • The third group was asked to do nothing.

After a month, the groups were tested on their free-throws again. He found those who practiced every day improved by 24% and the second group who only visualised their free throws, improved by 23%! Both improving by almost the same percentage, whereas the third group (control group) didn’t improve at all.

I had found a possible way to beat Mr Time.

There are only so many hours I can train and even fewer hours a week I can put my body through the motions of throwing, before I have to stop, due to fatigue and the concern of procuring an injury.

However, there is no limitation on the amount of time I can spend visualising my throws. There is a surplus of time I can find in my day to do that! Before work, during lunch time, when I’m driving, when I get home from work, when I go to bed.

Suddenly I can exponentially increase the amount of time I can spend throwing per week!

From previous experience, I know I can visualise. When I was a lot younger, without realising there was a name for it, I used to be able to play a three game match of badminton in my head, before I went to bed, due to the years of training in the sport. It felt as real playing it in my mind, as it was playing it physically.

However I have found it very hard to visualise throwing a javelin in first person, due to the simple fact that I haven’t thrown for very long, thus have little muscle memory to fall back on and make it a ‘real’ experience. I.e. the neurological pathways from my brain to my muscles aren’t yet strong enough.

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So Mr Time was back ahead in the race, laughing at my failing solution, because I couldn’t visualise without having already gained the muscles memory, to enable me to throw in my mind.

Again I refused to accept that Mr Time was going to win this fight.

So I carried on researching. Finally stumbling across some new information, that watching videos of yourself and more able throwers is considered a type of visualisation and can generate the same benefits as producing the image in your mind.

I think the past month of training can be testament to the power of this type of visualisation.

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Since the start of this year, I have been watching three-five seconds of video footage, for an hour, sometimes two, everyday, on repeat- over and over and over and over again.

From this, my ability to visualise in first person has improved. I am therefore now accumulating a greater number of hours, in less time. Enabling me to speed up the process, with the aim to acquire the magical 10,000 hours, to become an ‘expert’ in the sport.

Since the start of the year, my run up has become smoother and much more consistent. In turn making my throws go consistently further! From this, watching the videos, has strengthened the links between my muscles and brain, enabling me to perform throws much easier than previously practiced, from only visualising them.

Your mind doesn’t even notice the difference, between the two types of practice. So visualising during time when you aren’t physically training, can truly help you improve.

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Obviously  visualisation can be applied to anything in your life. Maybe you’ve applied for a new job, visualise yourself having the interview every night prior to the real thing. I can guarantee you will go into the interview with so much more confidence and come across so much more competent and prepared than you otherwise would have.

It is another technique that can be applied across all spectrums of your life and I would strongly recommend giving it a go!

My battle with Mr Time is no where near finished and I am certain another battle is on the horizon, but I will be ready. I will not be an easy opponent and I will definitely not roll over and allow him to win. He’s picked the wrong fella to mess with and I will only delight in overcoming the next challenge he has to throw at me.

Im waiting for you Mr Time, what you got?!

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