Olympic Athletes: Practices Behind the Scenes; Visualization Techniques
The best, the most elite competitors come together and compete at the Olympics every four years to represent their country. You may be able to hear about their training, sacrifices and commitments that they have put into their repertoire to compete and perform at a World-Class level and win at the Olympics. However, “typically, life is a game of inches,” Al Pacino once said in his highly recognized movie Any Given Sunday, and for the ones who compete at World-Class levels could say that the most minuscule things they have put together could hinder the outcomes.
One feature that has had a great impact on athletes at Olympic Levels is visualization techniques. A research has been performed by University of Denver comparing visualizing versus physically performing springboard dives. Springboard diving was selected as a model real-world motor skill because diving from a board requires both a concrete cognitive representation of one’s orientation in space and a cognitive set of sequentially organized movements. 26 divers from University of Michigan were selected for the experiment.
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All of the divers in the expert group competed in the US Olympic trials and more than half of the divers later competed in the Olympics. The study recorded both the physical times and the visual times by having each diver count the number of times they visualized their maneuver in a 20-minute period using a clicker-counting device. The results have shown that relative to physical time, visualization time increased with increased complexity, suggesting the involvement of capacity-limited working memory.
Why is it that repetitive visualization has such a great influence on the athletes? This can be seen on the article “A Measurement and Conceptual Investigation of Exercise of Imagery Establishing Construct Validity,” done by the American Alliance for Health (AAH). They tested potential impacts of mental imagery on outcomes related to exercise to behavior. They ran several tests using 358 college students. They had tested them with Exercise Imagery Inventory, which gave results of the interrelationships for cognitive (e. g. exercise technique, exercise routines) and motivational (e. g. , appearance/health, exercise self-efficacy, exercise feelings) factors of mental imagery and how this associates with exercise behavior and barriers self-efficacy. The independent factors, which were the cognitive factor, such as, imagining becoming more fit, imagining the techniques and motivational factors, such as, imagining feeling relaxed, and completing the workout feeling good, were asked to be done by the students during the 20 minute leisure times they had on a daily basis.
The tests had shown and proven that there is a potential influence on one when one visualizes one’s-self achieving something. The repetitive practice done in your head becomes like a goal and makes ones motivational factor to improve as well as the performance of the exercise at the same time increases. Reed is mainly focusing on visualization practices on just the physical performance unlike the article done by AAH.
The article by AAH is focusing on their improvements inside their workouts but it does not strictly focus on just that. They are also giving attention on the cognitive and motivational factors. These two articles together however give a general skill needed to perform at the “next level. ” Visualization is never frowned upon nor is it a very well-known skill by the average Joe, but this maybe just the one little thing that is missing in ones repertoire to compete at the next level.
Unarguably, the hardest camp in America, J Robinson’s 28-Day Intensive Wrestling Camp had a very keen focus on visualizing the techniques practiced, as well as visualizing yourself in the weight room. Similarly, to the article done by the AAH, the repetitive practices makes one hungrier and gives more desire to achieve his or her goal and keeps it simple for him or herself to understand what is at stake and gives them a better understanding of why they are putting themselves in such brutal situations in their trainings. This camp has raduated many campers who walked in as boys, kids, premature humans, but leaving as men or adults in their mind, after learning how visualization can be practiced on a daily basis to help succeed in any kind of situation in life. This camp has annually proven that visualization has an influence on any life obstacle that could stand in your way. One flaw that was not covered by either of the articles would be that the setting that they would be in was not practiced in their visualizations. This gives one an even better life-like visual in their minds, which would make it a better life-like practice in their minds.