Sometimes it’s good to be in a world of imagination

I am looking at this year and cannot believe we are already in March. It is by about this stage that the fun and excitement of News Year’s resolutions start to wear off, or even worse you start to think “Were those New Year’s resolutions realistic after all?”

This year I tried something different. After listening to a few guest speakers at conferences last year I thought I would go with a one word “theme” for the year rather than goals. The theme for me this year is “Imagine”.

I listened intently to the story of Wayne Pearce as he recalled how he sat in the change rooms of his local football ground as a kid “picturing” himself playing for the Tigers, the Blues and one day for Australia. This triggered me to think about how powerful the mind can be. It brought me back to my sport psychology 101 “Mental Imagery” / visualization techniques and how important they can be in helping achieve our goals.

The slogan “Dream, Believe, Achieve” is quite commonly bantered around these days, but how often do people think about what they want to achieve and then “picture” themselves achieving it?

As an athlete growing up, I used these techniques quite often. I would picture myself nailing my run up and lift in long jump, picturing myself clearing the high jump bar and sprinting through the finish line in training, “picturing” myself winning the race. It transferred easily to other aspects in my life, when I had to make speeches at school and even as a first-time mum, I visualized my almost breached baby turning so I could deliver a natural birth.

There have been several studies over many years within psychology reiterating how the use of visualization and mental imagery can help performance. Driskell et al (1994)* conducted a study where the results indicated that mental practice has a positive and significant effect on performance. The effectiveness of mental practice was moderated by the type of task, the retention interval between practice and performance, and the length or duration of the mental practice. Basically, the sharper the imagery and the more it is used, the better the outcome.

Mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory. We can train our brains for actual performance during visualization. It’s been found that mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence and self-efficacy, improve motor performance and prime your brain for success– all relevant to each aspect of your life!

This year’s theme for me “Imagine” is a nice little concise prompt for me to start using these techniques more in my life again. Imagine myself fitting into that dress I like (especially when I am about to eat that second chocolate), imagine myself presenting to a room full of people on a topic that I love and sometimes when I get too stressed…imagine myself lazing on a beach on a well-deserved holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, you can’t just think about something and it will happen. You can however use it as a tool to reinforce what you are doing. Use mental imagery to stay motivated and to maintain focus. Practice in your head (“imagine”) with as much details as you can, on what you want to achieve and practice it often!

* James E. Driskell, Carolyn Copper, and Aidan Moran -“Does Mental Practice Enhance Performance?” -Journal of Applied Psychology 1994, Vol. 79,

Yvette Audet

Yvette Audet

Sport has been an integral part of my life, both work and personal. I grew up with sport, met my husband through sport and now as a mother, am involved more than ever in sport!

As a trainer and consultant in the industry I work with sporting groups and councils to create community facilities and partnerships aimed to increase sport participation.

I have created a range of articles from the perspective of a SPORTING MUM. The articles relate life skills and messages that we can get from being involved in sport. It’s uncanny how Sport can mirror life.

BIO

Involved in gymnastics, netball and athletics from an early age, Yvette experienced being part of a team as well as the unrelentless discipline in individual sport – in particular her Heptathlon days.

First became a mum in 2005 and remembers having the inner debate of how long should I play netball while pregnant? Doing quick breastfeeds in between netball games and hoping her uterus wouldn’t feel like falling out when she jumped for the ball.

Funny anecdotes aside, she has worked in the sport and recreation industry for almost 30 years and holds several certificates and degrees around the management and training of sport, community recreation, aquatics and fitness.

Through her various roles in profit and non-profit sectors, she has helped plan for programs, events and facilities to help get communities active through sport and recreation.

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