One of my clients came in. All names and identifying information have been changed.
Matt skateboards. He says that he keeps " choking".
In practice he's able to master his 360s. But in competitions, he makes mistakes. He was frustrated. We decided to try an exercise. I guided him through a visualization exercise to prepare him for his competitions. I had him close his eyes and ask to imagine the surroundings as if it were 10 minutes before he went on. How would he describe the arena? He reported that it was a large stadium, with all his competitors there. Now I had him imagine what his body was feeling. He felt his heart racing. I asked him to evaluate his physiological responses, his breathing, his body temperature. He said that his body felt warm. I asked him to take some deep breaths, inhaling for four counts, holding the breath for four and then exhaling for four seconds. I asked him how his body responded.
Let's try an exercise.
This exercise will integrate relaxation and physical sensations accompanying a competitive event. Imagine yourself at the stadium (or wherever your event takes place). Is there a crowd making noise? Take a deep breath in, hold for 4, then exhale. What do you smell? Freshly cut grass or rubber mats? The key is to activate your senses. What do you see? Where are your teammates in relation to you? Repeat the breathing. and how imagery impacts arousal and anxiety.
For increased motivation, we want to imagine specific goals, with a particular destination--to raise effort levels, we would access Motiv Specific (MS) imagery.
We returned to his surroundings and the sounds that he encountered.
He said that there was a loud rumble of many people talking, with shouting interspersed. We pretended as though it were five minutes before he went on. I asked him what smells were activated. He suggested that he could smell the pavement and the air. I asked him to visualize himself taking his first step preparing for his trick. I had him feel the muscles that were being activated as he went in his 360. He described that he could feel his foot as it were placed on the front of the board in his kick-flip stance. "It's all about scooping the board right." I had him walk me through it, step-by-step. He described that he felt his weight shift onto his right leg as he bent it to as his left foot grasped the tail of the board. He could feel his left foot tilt the board as he got some spin. As he kicked his board out with his left foot, he could feel the air beneath his feet. He just could feel himself catch the board.
Matt and I engaged in Cognitve Specific (CS) and Motivation General Arousal (MG-A) guided imagery. CS refers to the specific skill you want to perform at the competition, or the 360 Matt was working on. Matt and I used CS to pinpoint the muscles utilized in the 360.
If nerves get the best of you, I recommend combining MG-A with CS, where MG-A focuses on the arousal stares ignited by the nerve-wracking situation and CS is the specific skill you want to perform at the competitive event. The research suggests that if we don't integrate MG-A into our regimen, the use of imagery will be less effective. MG-A focuses on physiological responses associated with stress and anxiety.
My dad asked me, " How do you know that it'll be accurate or that you're good at It?"
It's all about getting your brain to understand which muscles to move automatically.
Basically, you practice recognizing which muscles are activated in order to make the visualization worthwhile. For beginners, I would recommend a simpler exercise first. Close your eyes and flex your quad muscle. Now try this again but imagine that you are flexing it without moving your body. Keep practicing with these types of isolated movements and focusing on one muscle group or body part at a time.
Here's another exercise.
For this example, I'll use pull-ups.
Closing your eyes, take a deep breath in and feel your core engaged. Feel your lat muscles engaging. Imagine how it feels to lift yourself.
Start small. See if you can feel one muscle group engaging as you're visualizing.
Callow, N. & Hardy, L. (2004). The relationship between the use of kinesthetic imagery and different visual imagery perspectives. Journal of Sports Sciences, 22, 167-177. Roberts, R., Callow, N. , Hardy, L., Markland, D., & Bringer, J. (2008). Movement imagery ability: Development and assessment of a revised version of the Vividness of Movement Imagery Questionnaire, Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 30, 200-221.
Short, S.E., Tenute, A., & Feltz, D.L. (2005). Imagery use in sport: Mediational effects for efficacy. Journal of Sports Sciences, 23(9), 951-960. Stecklow, M.V., Infantosi, A.F.C., & Cagy, M. (2010). EEG changes during sequences of visual and kinesthetic motor imagery. Arq Neuropsiquiatr, 68(4), 556-561.