Visualization… What exactly is it? How does it work? Does it work? How can it help my performance?
These four questions are constantly pondered by tennis players. In tennis, we hear players and coaches talk about visualization all the time. You may have heard about visualization in sports articles, interviews or tennis camps and clinics. Yet, visualization is still misunderstood by many young players.
So, let’s get right to the heart of the matter:
What is visualization? Visualization, or imagery, is mentally experiencing an event as you want it to happen. Visualization is similar to a movie in your mind and you are both the actor and the director.
How does visualization work? In visualization, you direct the mental movie as you want it to unfold. The visualization is a guided script where you mentally see, image or experience being successful on the tennis court.
Does visualization work? There is a lot of research that indicates experiencing an event in your mind activates your muscles similar to a physical experience. In addition, many athletes attest to the benefits of visualization and have added visualization to their daily training regimen. These athletes often credit visualization as a significant component to their success.
How can visualization help my performance? One way that visualization can help your performance is that it eliminates the unknown. Not knowing what to expect or feeling out of control significantly increases anxiety. Another reason why visualization works is that it helps you feel prepared and boosts confidence. Just as success on the court breeds confidence, successful images in your mind also contribute to improved confidence.
Let’s hear from the pros and how visualization has contributed to their success…
Eighteen year-old Bianca Andreescu has shot up the rankings since ending 2018 season being ranked No. 178. Recently, Andreescu broke into the Top-40 by winning the 2019 BNP Paribas Open becoming the first wild-card winner and second-youngest to claim the title in tournament history.
Not only does Andreescu spend a lot of time developing her tennis skills, she works on her mental game as well. In fact, Andreescu has used visualization since she was 12 years-old!
ANDREESCU: “I take 15 minutes every morning just to get in tune with my body, my mind. I visualize myself having a good day, like, stuff like that. I feel like a lot of people work on the physical part of things, but I think the mental part is the most important because it controls your whole body, right?”
Novak Djokovic, who has won 15 Grand Slams and spent over 230 weeks ranked No. 1 in the world, also believes in the power of visualization and credits visualization for his success on the court.
DJOKOVIC: “Visualization is a big part of everybody’s life, not just athletes. I strongly believe in visualization. I believe that there is a law of attraction: You get the things that you produce in your thoughts. Life just works that way.”
If visualization works for the top tennis players in the world, it can work for you too.
Tardio Tip: Adding Visualization to Your Training Regimen
Start small… Envision yourself hit a well-placed powerful serve for a winner. As you become more comfortable with visualization, you can visualize longer rallies or making a comeback after being a set down.
It may be helpful to write out a script for your imagery. Write in detail the exact experience you want to experience. Read it prior to visualizing.
To add to your experience, use all your senses to provide a real feel to your experience.
Add visualization to your training regimen and you will see how powerful it can be to your overall game.
Related Article: Mental Tools to Reach your Athletic Potential
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