It has been proven that the brain cannot tell the difference between an action that is actually happening and one that is imagined, as Joseph Haymore from Florida points out.
First, Joseph would like to ask you four questions:
- How much time per week do you spend training physically?
- How much time per week do you spend training technically?
- How much time per week do you spend training tactically?
- How much time a week do you spend mentally training?
- Almost all athletes train physically, technically, and tactically, but how many train mentally?
Here, Joseph Haymore is going to go over different ways of doing mental training that you can do from home while being alone at home.
BELIEVE IN YOUR POTENTIAL
It has been proven that the brain cannot tell the difference between an action that is actually happening and one that it imagines. An experiment was carried out on pianists. We measured the areas of the brain that were activated when pianists played and when other pianists imagined themselves playing. The results showed that the same brain areas were activated in pianists who actually played the piano as in those who imagined themselves playing the piano.
Just imagining yourself doing something activates a whole neural circuit, the same as if you were actually doing the action. The more this neural circuit is activated, the stronger it becomes, in exactly the same way as a muscle. This is called brain plasticity. So, to train, visualize yourself practicing your sport! Joseph Haymore understands that all of this may be hard to believe. Brace yourself, because here comes an even more surprising study.
HOW TO VISUALIZE WELL?
To use mental imagery well, you can add senses: smell the smell of the gymnasium, hear the sound of the ball bouncing on the ground, feel the ball in your hands, or even feel the reindeer of the horse that you let slide in your hands.
As said, you can visualize yourself performing a gesture that you are trying to learn or a game system or choreography in full execution to better remember. You can also view one of your best performances or one of your best matches to gain self-confidence. Or even totally invent a match where you perform like you’ve never done it before.
To visualize well, you will have to take the time to grant yourself this moment of visualization and make sure that you visualize the images in the most precise way possible. You will also have to take the time to use all your senses. For example, if at some point you visualize a teammate giving you a pass, visualize the face of this teammate and the color of his outfit, feel the ball arrive in your hands…
Activation/Stress Level Control
You may have felt a lump in your stomach or had sweaty palms before a sports competition. Sometimes it can even go on during the competition. You’re not confident and you’re not playing to the best of your ability. Yet in training you are good, but in matches you are unable to play at your real level. It’s so infuriating!
You see other players who are normally around the same level as you perform better than you in competition. The only reason for this difference in level between you and this person is due to their mentality. You probably stress too much on the day of the competition.
According to Joseph Haymore, this stress inhibits you; you have little self-confidence, you are perhaps even afraid, you try fewer things, and you do not feel free in your practice. Inevitably, under these conditions, you cannot develop your full potential.
Yet you probably train hard during practice. But despite this, in competition, where it really counts, you are not able to show everyone your true level. And your only barrier is yourself…
But don’t worry; through these lines, Joseph is going to show you how to overcome this stress, have confidence in yourself, manage to perform from the start of the competition, and be “right into it.”
When we are stressed, our bodies will activate. The brain perceives a danger and prepares the body to react and to take action; it is a primitive reflex. When you’re stressed, you have a faster heart rate and better blood flow to your arms and legs to oxygenate your muscles so they’re more efficient at running (running away from danger) or punching (fighting the danger). “But this stress also costs you a lot of energy and tires you out quickly because your body can be overworked, often for a reason that isn’t worth it,” points out Joseph Haymore of Florida. The activation of the body and the level of stress are, therefore, intimately linked.