Visualizing: A tool for every athlete
Visualizing is arguably one of the most useful tools for gymnasts and for athletes in every sport! The ability for gymnasts to visualize can be used when learning new skills, taking skills from a low beam to a high beam, learning new routines, during mental blocks or in times of injury when you may not be able to perform to 100%.
Visualizing is an important strategy for up-training and creating a positive mind-set during gymnastics practice as well as at competitions. Great athletes can create visual and sensory images they can re-play over and over again in their minds.
“What the mind can conceive, it can achieve.”
Understanding the details of this tool are key. Essentially, you are making a movie in your mind of the routine you’re performing or the skill you’re doing. While creating this “movie in your mind” we recommend trying to remember the 5 W’s: who, what, when, where, why and then of course, how!
Where are you performing this routine? Perhaps it’s on the floor. What color is your floor? What corner do you start your first pose in?
- What pose you’re performing in your choreography?
- What your hand placement is on the skill you’re doing.
- What color leotard you’re wearing.
- Whether your hair is in a bun or a ponytail.
- When is your routine being performed?
- When during practice do you perform the skills your seeing?
- Visualize YOU!
- Who is watching; your teammates, coaches, judges, parents, and other spectators?
- Is why you’re visualizing because you’re overcoming a mental block?
- Why could be as simple as because of an important competition, or as detailed as referencing why you started gymnastics to begin with and why you do this sport day-in and day-out
- How are you going to do the routine or skill? Are you going to sprint down the vault runway or flip backwards on the four-inch-wide balance beam?
- How do you want to feel before you start? Calm, confident. FEEL IT.
- How do you want to feel after the skill is over? Proud, accomplished. FEEL IT. SEE IT.
Whether you’re new to visualizing or if you’re a visualizing pro, remember that detail is key. If you are visualizing a skill in your own gym it should be easy to see the bar set you’re performing on, to see the mat placement as it is every day in the gym. You should see your coach watching you, hear his/her corrections in your mind…. If you’re visualizing for something outside of your gym try to imagine the floor the best you can. See where the judges are and what they’re wearing. Hear how loud it is in the gym. Hear the judge say your name, see her raise the flag that indicates you may begin. The more real you can make it in your mind, the easier it will translate to your gymnastics skills.
Start visualizing by taking it slow. Try the following:
Sit next to the event you’re visualizing for. Close your eyes. Breathe in, breathe out. Smell the chalk in the air. See yourself in the leotard you’re wearing. See your teammates around you. Hear the hustle and bustle of the gym. See yourself raise your arms to perform your skill, see yourself move- be it backwards or forwards. Feel the equipment under your hands, under your feet. See yourself when your skill is over. Feel how proud you are of yourself for finishing the skills successfully…. open your eyes.
We would love to hear from our Destira Stars as to what details you use when visualizing for gymnastics, and we would love to hear if our strategies helped you during your workout or competition. You’ve got this!
Find inspiration to keep visualizing with your own Destira grip bag, go here! And don't underestimate the power of feeling great in an awesome leotard. All of the leos show in this article can be found here.