Why you may want to try more than visualization
Why visualization needs to share the podium
Visualization is often put on a pedestal as the only way to mentally hone your skills. This would be a valid assumption, if vision was the only sense ignited while collecting and recalling information. Luckily for those that are not inclined to use visual imagery, audio and kinesthetic practice can also work.
Sometimes people, for example many amazing musicians, are genetically built to learn through rhythm. If an athlete has this gift, then listening, feeling, and re-enacting the rhythm of a skill and repeating this mentally, will grant the coveted goal of consistency similar to visualization. Auditory practice or as we like to say "audio," is also helpful if an athlete struggles with either clarity of pictures, or pinpointing focus during internal or external viewing. These learners like to feel the beat, sense it, and repeat.
If you have ever witnessed an early crawler or climber, you’ve seen these babies demonstrate the actions of learning and problem-solving through touch. This is why kinesthetic techniques are helpful for athletes with a tendency to process new skills through physical and graphical elements. Instead of see it to believe it, they feel it to believe it.
As we’ve read with visualization, mental practice is like role playing for actor/tresses. This mindful repetition of skills, prior to actual execution, lowers anxiety, and eliminates the brain fatigue caused by questioning the next step. An athlete can then get up “on stage,” and perform the same rehearsed steps, without hesitation. Whether it is rhythmic or kinesthetic practice, does not make a difference. Mental repetition is repetition, and all variations result in the goal of familiarity.
Even if visualization is working for you, mentally reviewing what you hear and feel during a task, can only add more vividness. Vividness is key; the additional senses used during sessions will increase neurological connectivity. If by chance you are unsure why mental rehearsal has not worked for you, don’t fret! Read about the necessary steps for flawless advanced mental skills training in the next post.