What type of Visual Imagery is going to enhance your physical performance?
Before you go to make a run, what do you visualize? Do you picture a perfect run at all or do you leave it up to your horse to call the shots?
Professional athletes, in any industry, stress how impactful visual imagery is on their physical performance. Studies have shown that when you visualize an act, you trigger your muscles to respond to the act you’re trying to recreate. In other words, you’re pre-programming your muscles to perform the task you are about to ask them to complete. This is why it is so crucial to visualize the run you want, rather than focus on what you’re afraid of happening. This is also why I don’t encourage watching others ride before you compete unless you know they ride well and perform the habits you want to incorporate into your run.
“…it is important to note that if you visualize improper techniques or inappropriate responses, it may actually cause a decrement in performance. If an athlete visualizes himself performing skills with imperfect form, he is actually programming his mind and body to perform the skills improperly.”
– Dr. Judd Biasiotto, “Psych”
**These findings are based on the studies found in the book Psych: by Dr. Judd Biasiotto; A professional athlete and sports psychologist.**
You can find BOOK here: https://amzn.to/3vMPzm8
Did you know that there are multiple ways to visualize your run?
Types of Mental Imagery:
I’m going to focus on 2 types of mental imagery styles that will help you channel the runs you are aiming to accomplish with your horse.
- Internal Imagery (Kinesthetic Imagery): This is the type of mental visualization where you are in your own body performing the act. You see yourself completing your race through your own eyes. You can feel your horse move effortlessly through the turns and you can feel the energy of the crowd when you round the third barrel headed towards home. You’re viewing the run and the crowd from the saddle.
- External Imagery: This type of mental imagery is feeling as if you’re viewing yourself from an outsider’s perspective. Like an out of body experience. This would seem as if you’re standing in the crowd watching yourself make a run.
Which one is more effective?
According to the studies from the book, Internal imagery had more effect on triggering muscle activity during the time or visualization but both seemed to be effective.
Overall visual imagery is not only powerful in programming the necessary muscles but also creating a feeling that can be brought into reality. Therefore, whatever visualization technique that helps you feel and see the perfect run, is what is going to bring this performance into reality.
Usually, I’m extremely strong with internal imagery and can not only picture the run I want but I can feel it. I started riding a couple of horses that were extremely ratey and I would find myself creating a habit of tensing up. I needed to break this habit so I could visualize a perfect run but when I did so, I found that I would get stuck on that moment of the run and try to overanalyze it or I couldn’t get past being tense and end up stressing out even more. I would also get stuck in trainer mode and have a hard time picturing a fluid run. I had to change up my visual approach in order to be able to picture a fluid and effortless run. I had to literally get out of my head.
For right now, External imagery works perfectly for me because I don’t hesitate and I can picture the full pattern. There may be times when it’s more effective for me to go back to internal imagery. That’s the beauty of it, you decide what works best for you!
If you’re not a visual person at all, try picking a word that encourages the feelings you need to be the rider your horse needs. Ex: light, balanced, trusting…etc. These words encourage positive and powerful feelings.
It’s the feeling created from visual imagery techniques that is one of the most powerful aspects of visualizing a performance. Everything in the world operates at a vibrational energy/frequency.
Energy is either positive or negative, flowing to or away. By generating a positive feeling and then visualizing it you are giving that energy a place to go, you’re bringing it into reality. The same goes for when you feel anxious or tense, and then you visualize what could go wrong, and well…don’t be shocked when things go wrong.
Have you ever heard the saying “thoughts become things so better make them good.”? Yeah, that’s no joke!
My Challenge for you:
With your next races coming up try out both types of imagery and see which one provides you a better response and then tell me which one works better for you!
If you want to keep track of your mental game and how it affects your performance, keep a performance tracker! Jot down pre and post-race what you visualized and what actually happened.
It may not all happen at once but perfect practice makes perfect results.
Best of luck!!!!