Olympic Athletes: Practices Behind the Scenes; Visualization Techniques

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Research Project 1
Olympic Athletes: Practices Behind the Scenes; Visualization Techniques

HWS 336
Prof J. Teed
By Genta Murayama

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. 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...
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