Following is an overview of the types of imagery and a basic 'how to' for creating scripts.
The five main categories of imagery have been identified as follows:
1) Motivational Specific (MS) - This involves seeing yourself being successful in your event, such as receiving a medal or congratulated by your teammates. MS may boost motivation but by itself, is usually not enough to garner improved motivation.
2) Motivational General - Mastery (MG-M) - This is based on seeing yourself mastering challenging situations. MG-M imagery appears to help in developing expectations of success and self confidence.
3) Motivational General - Arousal (MG-A) - This imagery reflects feelings of relaxation, stress, anxiety or arousal in sport. Evidence suggests that MG-A imagery may influence heart rate and can be used as a 'psych-up' strategy.
4) Cognitive Specific (CS) - This involves seeing yourself perform specific skills, such as a golf putt or butterfly stroke in swimming. Evidence suggests that CS imagery will most useful for learning and performance outcomes.
5) Cognitive General (CG) - This involves images of strategy and game plans related to a competitive event. Examples could include employing a serve-and-volley strategy in tennis or a quick-break play in basketball.
Mental rehearsal needs to be developed methodically and practiced regularly. There are four elements to the process - relaxation, realism, regularity and reinforcement.
A relaxed mind and body is needed to help feel movement patterns and experience emotions.
The goal here is to create your imagery to be as realistic as possible. It needs to feel like you are actually executing the skill. To do so, you require Definition, Action, Emotion, Detail, and a Positive Result into your imagery:
- Definition - Make the images as vivid as possible, include colour
- Action - Break down the image sequence into each relevant component and visualize those components. (Golf - address, back swing, middle of swing, follow through)
- Emotion - Try to include emotions in your images.
- Detail - Incorporate as many of your senses as possible. If cycling, see the road, the potholes, the curves, feel the headwind.
- Positive result - Critical - what you see is what you get
A time allotment of 3 to 5 minutes seems to be most effective. It should be included as part of your overall training routine.
Write a script as the act of writing it downs will help as you plan the content of your mental rehearsal routine.
How to Create a Basic picture
Describe the basic content of the skill to be imagined. Be exact in how the skill is performed and include all components of the skill.
Add the detailed movement patterns and kinesthetic feelings - Swimmer, the hand enters the water at a certain angle and you feel the pull of the water in your hand.
Refine the script
Read the script and try to imagine executing the skill. Does it feel as if you are actually executing the skill as you want? Modify the script if required.
When you are satisfied, record the script and use as as needed.