Imagery and itsInfluence on SportingPerformance.By Daniel Sainsbury
ContentsWhat is imagery?Terms That Are Similar to Imagery:BackgroundFour Models of ImageryFactors Influencing ImageryDoes it work?Is There a Downside?
What is Imagery?Imagery is a basic cognitive function in humansand is central to motor skill acquisition andexecutionImagery may be defined as using all the senses(or at least all senses that are appropriate) tocreate or re-create an experience or skill in themind.“an internal representation that gives rise to theexperience of perception in the absence of theappropriate sensory input”(Wraga&Kosslyn, 2002).
Terms that are related to imagery:RehearsalVisualizationModelingCognitive rehearsalImaginal practiceVisuomotor trainingand even sofa training
More BackgroundTry not to confuse Mental practice and ImageryBenefits have been shown to athletes by doingmental practice than if they did no practice.
Four Models of ImageryBruce Howe. “Imagery and Sport Performance” University ofVictoria. Victoria, B.C. Canada
The Psycho-Neuromuscular ApproachThe psycho-neuromuscular approach describesthe effects of imagery rather than the processitself.It suggests that the imagery response will triggeridentical motor actions for the skill being imagedand thus assist in developing the skill when usedalone or in combination with physical practice.
The Symbolic Learning Theory The symbolic learning theory suggests that it is the imaging of the symbolic general elements of a task rather than specific muscle actions which will improve performance. This is closely allied to the principle that the movement must be understood conceptually before learning is possible.
The Arousal/Activation Theory The arousal/activation theory suggests that imagery is a means by which the subject prepares for action both physiologically and psychologically. Giving the athlete motivation
The bioinformational TheoryThe bioinformational or information processingtheory incorporates elements of the first twotheories in that it suggests that imagery acts as amental stimulus for responses through matchinga previous response from long term memory.These would presumably include both cognitiveand motor responses.
Status of the AthleteWhether the athlete is elite or non-eliteElite athletes use more imagery than beginnersand also get a better increase in performancethan beginnersElite athletes are better at doing imagery
Imagery Experience andAbililtyThe individual ability of the athlete to useimageryIf the athlete has done it beforeIf the athlete is comfortable using it
Imagery PerspectiveInternal Perspective: Within the athlete In their mind No physicalExternal Creating a duplicate action FeelInternal more powerful
Type of Imagery UsedFirstly, the athlete needs to be comfortableThe type of imagery needs to suit the action
Nature of the TaskDecide which type of imagery that is going to beusedMake the athlete feel more or less easyDepend on the experience of the athlete
Other Psychological AbilitiesMotivationRelaxationAttitude
Does it work?“We taped a lot of famous pictures on the locker-room door: other players holding the StanleyCup. We’d stand back and look at them andenvision ourselves doing it. I really believe if youvisualize yourself doing something, you canmake that image come true.... I must haverehearsed it ten thousand times. And when itcame true it was like an electric bolt went up myspine.” Wayne Gretzky ,1998.
Jack Nicklaus (Champion Golfer) Greg Louganis (Olympian Diving Gold Medalist) Chris Evert (Tennis Champion) Pat Summitt(Female Basketball Coach)Weinberg, R. (2008)
imagery plus physical practice was compared to just physical practice and with the inclusion of imagery there was an increase of free throw percentage by 10-18%. Note: Closed SkillSavoy &Beitel, 1996
Suinn in 1976 developed visuo-motor behavior rehearsal (VMBR) which includes a relaxation stage before imagery occurs and this also have been proven to show positive results. Coaches felt it was an important mental tool to enhance performance… It was found that coaches attending a mental skills training workshop felt that they not only used imagery more than any other mental training technique, but that it was the most helpful technique that they used with their athletesWeinberg, R. (2008)
Is There a Downside?It is hard to manipulate a technique like you areable to in physical practiceThe athlete can only practice the way they thinkthe skill should be performed.You also need to make sure that your athletesare doing imagery (specific skill) rather thanmental practice or prepareation (overall),although benefits for both
ConclusionIt is just another asset for your players, and at anelite level of competition you need all the littleadvantages you can get.
ReferencesBruce Howe. “Imagery and Sport Performance” University of Victoria. Victoria, B.C. CanadaCallery, P., & Morris, T. (1993). The effect of mental practice on the performance of an Australian Rules football skill. In S.Serpa, J. Alves, V. Ferreira, & A. Paula-Brito (Eds.). Proceedings of the VIII World Congress in Sport Psychology (pp. 646-651). Lisbon, Portugal.Hall, C. (2001). Imagery in sport and exercise. In R. Singer, H. Hausenblas, & C. Janelle (Eds.), Handbook of research insport psychology (2nd ed., pp.529- 549). New York: Wiley.Hall, C., & Rodgers, W. (1989). Enhancing coaching effectiveness in figure skating through a mental skills trainingprogram. The Sport Psychologist, 2, 142-154.Hinshaw, K. (1991). The effects of mental practice on motor skill performance: Critical evaluation and meta-analysis.Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 11, 3-35.Murphy, S.M. and D.P. Jowdy. (1992) Imagery and Mental Practice in Advances in Sport Psychology. (Horn T.S. ed.)Champaign, IL.: Human KineticsSavoy, C., &Beitel, P. (1996). Mental imagery for basketball. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 27, 454-462.Suinn, R. (1993) “Imagery in Handbook of Research in Sport Psychology”. (Singer, R. N., Murphey, M., and Tennant, L.K.eds.) New York: Macmillan Publishing Co,Suinn, R. (1976, July). Body thinking for Olympic champs. Psychology Today, 10, 38-43.Weinberg, R. (2008) “Does Imagery Work? Effects on Performance and Mental Skills” Journal of Imagery Research inSport and Physical Activity, Volume 3, Issue 1Wraga, M., &Kosslyn, S. (2002). Imagery. In L. Nadel (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science (Vol.2). London: NatureGroup.