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Mentally Preparing For Competition With Visualization

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Dan Gould, a PCA National Advisory Board Member and Director of Michigan State’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, is renowned for his work in sport psychology and mental training for athletic competition. He conducts research on the psychological foundations of coaching and has consulted for the U.S. Olympic Committee, the U.S. Tennis Association, and athletes of all ages and skill levels.

Gould describes how important visualization can be when mentally preparing for competition. Visualization is a process by which athletes imagine their future performance using all their senses. Elite athletes commonly use visualization, and it can be a very powerful technique for any athlete. Scholarly literature suggests that this kind of visualization even helps to kinesthetically groove energy pathways.

However, the same patterns of visualization for one person may not work for everyone. In fact, visualization may not be the best way for each athlete to prepare. However, because of the psychological research that shows the obvious benefits, all athletes can try it and see if or how it works for them. No matter the results of the initial attempts at visualization, athletes likely will be the better for learning something by trying it.