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The Power of Visualization

Visualization is a tool for all levels of skills
       Visualization is a powerful mental training method, if used correctly, can transform performance at the beginning, intermediate, advanced, and elite levels of figure skating.

       This form of mental training must be used regularly and requires the athlete to form a realistically picture in their mind the exact way you, as a coach, want them to perform an element or the full routine.

       When used correctly, visualization brings major improvement to almost any area of a figure skating performance - however there are several aspects which need to be done correctly in order to extract the best results. 

       The conscious mind must achieve the correct level of relaxation to connect with the subconscious mind.  Relaxation is a process that decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body. Relaxation techniques can help you cope with everyday stress and with stress related to various health problems,

       The Mayo Clinic recommends the following methods to reduce stress symptoms and help you enjoy a better quality of life, especially if you have an illness. Explore relaxation techniques you can do by yourself.

       Relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms by:

  • Slowing your heart rate
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Slowing your breathing rate
  • Increasing blood flow to major muscles
  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Improving concentration
  • Reducing anger and frustration
  • Boosting confidence to handle problems

       To maximize the benefits of relaxation techniques, combine with other positive coping methods, such as exercising, getting enough sleep, and the support of family and friends.

       There are several main types of relaxation techniques, including:

  • Autogenic relaxation. Autogenic means something that comes from within you. In this relaxation technique, you use both visual imagery and body awareness to reduce stress. You repeat words or suggestions in your mind to relax and reduce muscle tension. For example, you may imagine a peaceful setting and then focus on controlled, relaxing breathing, slowing your heart rate, or feeling different physical sensations, such as relaxing each arm or leg one by one.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. In this relaxation technique, you focus on slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group. This helps you focus on the difference between muscle tension and relaxation. You become more aware of physical sensations. One method of progressive muscle relaxation is to start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively working your way up to your neck and head. You can also start with your head and neck and work down to your toes. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.
  • Visualization. In this relaxation technique, you form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation. During visualization, try to use as many senses as you can, including smell, sight, sound and touch. If you imagine relaxing at the ocean, for instance, think about such things as the smell of salt water, the sound of crashing waves and the warmth of the sun on your body. You may want to close your eyes, sit in a quiet spot and loosen any tight clothing.

       Other common relaxation techniques include:

  • Hypnosis
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Tai chi
  • Yoga

Source - Mayo Clinic

Creating a Mental Image of Yourself
       To create a "new" mental image in the mind, it is first necessary to make an impression on the subconscious mind.  The visualized images need to be:
  • powerful
  • emotionally charged
  • realistic
  • used regularly

       Unfortunately, it is a fact is that visualization is not always used correctly.  

       Few individuals realize they are actually unconsciously visualizing all day long. This type of visualization is often filled with negative thoughts which is constantly influencing their performances.

       Many figure skaters experience recurring patterns of self sabotage caused by the skater unknowingly visualizing themselves to fail.

       Alpha and Theta relaxation states can bring instant stress release and provide positive support to  hypnotic suggestion, guided visualization, and affirmations.

       The ideal psychological state or "Zone" results from learning how to apply three basic mental skills:

  • Voluntary Relaxation/Energy Control
  • Mental Rehearsal
  • Cognitive Restructuring (Attitude Enrichment)
Top sports psychologists highly recommend hypnosis for teams and individual athletes.
       Most coaches agree that achieving success in sports is at least 89% mental and that hypnosis can help an athlete to relax, focus inward, and visualize success by thinking like a champion. 
       Thinking like a champion creates a positive state of mind before starting a program and continues until the program ends.  How many times have you seen a skater miss their first element and they can't recover? It is just down hill until the music ends!
       Self hypnosis can help train a skater's brain and nervous system to relax under pressure.  Hypnosis also has a remarkable ability to help a skater to perform "in the moment", focusing his or her attention on just the element to be performed and not worry about what has already happened.

       Research and experience have proven that athletes achieve their "Peak Performance" starts with the use of proper physical, nutritional, and psychological training.

       Concentration is a relaxed state of being alert. The goal of the athlete is to perform the planned actions in a relaxed, controlled state.  Too many young athletes experience a form of "stage flight" that makes a lasting impression on their ability at their best in future performances.

Mind Games
   Site contains some on-line games to:
  • Improve memory and attention
  • Offer rigorous training
  • Fun and easy: full workout in less than 10 minutes/day
  • Detailed feedback and improvement tracking

Recommended Reading:

Visualization for Sports Performance - How to Use May 19, 2010 ... Visualization in sport - can you use mental rehearsal to improve your performance?

Visualization in Sport - training - World of Sports Science Visualization in sport is a training technique that forms a part of the larger science of sports psychology. Visualization is also known as mental imagery.

PDF Visualization of sports using motion trajectories This paper presents one such sports visualization system called. LucentVision ... ity on sports analysis, visualization, and interactive video browsing.


Five healthy relaxation techniques

3 Powerful Breathing Relaxation Techniques

Effect of Yoga-based relaxation techniques on memory scores and state anxiety

Stress Coping: Relaxation Techniques

Easy Relaxation Techniques, Conscious Relaxation


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Flow/Peak Performance
Focus & Concentration
Goals and Objectives
Goal Setting
Personal Sabotage
Self Fulfilling Prophecy

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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