Every thrower has envisioned themselves hitting that monster toss or winning that major competition. Achieving those outcomes takes a lot of preparation and execution in both the circle and the weight room. But what if I told you there was a way to continue that preparation that could be done anywhere at any time? In today's blog, we will discuss imagery and how its implementation can help develop through training.
What is Imagery?
Imagery involves creating or recreating an experience in one's mind, using all senses, such as visual, kinesthetic, auditory, tactile, and olfactory (smell). For throws-specific training, visual, kinesthetic, auditory, and tactile senses are senses that will facilitate motor skill development.
Benefits of Imagery
The benefits of imagery training consist of the following:
Acquire, practice, and correct sport skills
Acquire and practice strategy
Prepare for competition
Cope with pain and adversity
Where, When, Why, and What
Where do athletes use imagery?
Athletes employ imagery more in competition than in training to enhance performance. Imagery at a competition can be used to help the athlete control their emotions, improve their concentration on the task at hand, and enhance their motivation to perform well.
When do athletes use imagery?
Athletes use imagery before, during, and after practice; outside of practice; before, during, or after competition; and for injury rehabilitation. Imagery can be used at any point to help develop an athlete's technical model.
Before I start my training session, I write down the task at hand of the session and spend about 2-3 minutes visualizing how I want to execute those tasks.
Why do athletes use imagery?
Athletes use imagery for motivation and cognitive functions. Those functions can be specific or general. Motivational imagery can be used to guide goals and manage emotions. Cognitive imagery can be used to develop skills needed for performance and strategies for competitions.
What do athletes image? Internal vs External
Internal perspective is visualizing the execution of a skill from one's vantage point (as if you had a camera on your head). To increase the skill of internal imagery, break down the throw into parts. Imagine each part being executed to the highest standard, then slowly start to piece each together.
External perspective is visualizing oneself from the perspective of an outside observer (as if you were watching yourself in a movie). Viewing a recording of one's throws is the easiest way to learn from an external perspective. Tools like OnForm are good for using visual tools to help break down each part of the throw.
No one form of visualization is better than the other. Having a combination of both can be very helpful in developing technique.
Keys to Effective Imagery
The key to effective imagery is vividness and controllability. Vivideness = using all senses to make images as detailed as possible. One can imagine being in a competition setting when they are at practice or being in a practice setting when they are rehabilitating from an injury. When using imagery, involve as many senses as possible and recreate or create the emotions associated with the task or skill one's trying to execute.
Controllability is the ability to manipulate one's imagination to do what one wants them to do. Imagine competing at a championship-level meet. One can use imagery training as part of their preparation to help control emotions and arousal levels heading into the competition. It is important to develop skills to control one’s images!
Imagery has many benefits to learning or developing motor skills. It can be utilized anywhere at any time. Implementing imagery training at least 2-3 minutes daily can improve concentration, motivation, and preparation for training or competition!
Remember, Jobs not finished, FIREMEUP - Sam Weeks
"Our aim is to provide concise and concrete education and training on the throws, helping coaches and athletes learn what they need to do to succeed and become champions."
- Dane, Trevor, and Sam