Now that you've studied your chosen sport/event it's time to put what you've learned to good use!
There are two kinds of visualization that I prefer. There is the "highlight reel" which is like watching an ESPN clip of yourself, and there is the first-person approach.
Before we begin with the processes though, I'd like to give you some guidelines that will help you to maximize your visualization training sessions. First, you need to find a place that is quiet and comfortable. The lesser the distractions the better during this time. Second, try differing settings and outcomes in your visualization work - don't always stay with the same exact thoughts/visuals. Visualize a competition in the rain, visualize a negative situation so you are prepared, etc. Last, take this seriously. I know that finding a quiet room and imagining yourself doing great things sounds kind of weird, but I sincerely believe it will take you to the next level.
As Walt Disney once said, "If you an dream it, you can do it". Basically, if you can see yourself doing something, and you can convince your brain that it is possible, the sky is the limit!
The "highlight reel" - This is a great way to see yourself achieving your goals from an outside perspective. It's just like you are watching a video on YouTube or television. The only difference is that you are the person everyone is watching. When using this visualization technique you need to simply see yourself doing all the technical things you've learned from watching videos, reading books, and/or having discussions with others. You need to see yourself pulling off what you hope to accomplish.
In the first-person perspective you need to visualize everything happening through your eyes. In this technique you are much more involved in the process of what is happening - you are no longer just a spectator but the person performing the action(s). You must hear the sounds, you must feel the sensations, and you must be fully present. This is the technique that I generally talk my athletes through, and feel as though it is the most helpful due to your direct need to continually interact and be focused during the entire visualization process.
In future posts regarding visualization I will be including a number of step-by-step visualization sessions for you to use in your preparations. Stay tuned!