Introduction to Different Types of Mental Training
An athlete qualifying for an Olympic Final competes against athletes who are fit, strong, flexible, powerful and skilful. All the competitors have devoted time and energy to becoming top-class athletes. However, there is only one champion and two medal winners. Often the difference between a medal and eighth place is a fraction of a second or a few centimetres. Interviews with athletes who succeed at this highest level often focus on which aspect of their preparation made them different from everyone else. Nine times out of ten these great athletes refer to a mental edge or psychological toughness. An athlete who wants to compete against other talented athletes needs to think carefully about mental preparation. It is not enough for them to expect to win simply because they have coved more mileage then the next athlete, or because they have lifted heavier weights. In the final analysis it is often more important to keep the mind in the pressurized environment of competition. In this essay I will be covering different forms of mental training employed by the sport psychologist.
Imagery and mental rehearsal are techniques that are frequently used in sport and exercise psychology because of the verity of applications they have in different settings.
Imagery is a polysensorial and emotional creation or recreation of an experience that takes place in the mind. It should involve as many senses as possible as well as trying to recreate emotions experienced through the activity the athlete takes part in. The post effective imagery uses kinaesthetic, visual, tactile, auditory and olfactory senses. An example of imagery that anyone could take part in is to think about a favourite athlete in any sport. Then think about when you have watched that sports person performing. Consider when you have thought about what that athlete has done during their performance, (e.g. how they kick a ball) tried to see your self doing that in a future competition, and then copied what they did during your performance. This is just one example of how our mind allows us to remember different events and then attempt to recreate them. It is imagery in one of many forms.
There are two main types of imagery in port and exercise: internal and external. • Internal imagery is imagining yourself doing something and concentrating on how the activity feels • External imagery is imagining yourself doing something as tough you are watching it on a film so that you can develop an awareness of how the activity looks Uses of imagery
Imagery has a number of uses in different areas of performance including relaxation, goal setting, concentration, developing confidence, controlling emotions and handling pressure, and diction making.
Imagery can be useful to highlight specific faults in performance which can then be used to set goals to improve performance.
A key aspect to concentration is being able to focus on relevant cues in the environment (e.g. things that directly affect sports performance) and being able to close out factors that don’t directly affect the sport performance (e.g. crowd noise and banners). By imagining what you want to achieve and what you need to be able to do to achieve it you can prevent your attention from focusing on irreverent aspects and focus on relevant aspects instead.
Decision making skills are benefited greatly by imagery because the use of imagery allows individuals to look at a number of options in different situations and the consequences of making different decisions. The benefits of imagery in the area tend to be greater for experienced performers rather than novices, because it helps them to refine skills and make the necessary dictions quickly.
Controlling Emotions and Handling Pressure
One of the benefits of using imagery is that you can imagine things that have gone wrong in...