#1 Brain-Training Hack Olympic Athletes Use To Perform Confidently Under Pressure
Elite athletes have a long and intimate history with visualization and imagery. Billie Jean King, winner of 39 Grand Slam titles and founder of both the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Women’s Tennis Association used the technique in the 1960s.
Four-time Olympic discus champion, Al Oerter, made visualization a key component of his training and preparation. In 1968 he was the first athlete to win a gold medal four consecutive times in the same event.
Over the course of several decades, the process of visualization has become quite sophisticated. It’s a practice that the world’s most successful athletes take seriously.
The American Olympic team brought nine sports psychologists with them to Sochi. The Canadian team brought eight and the Norwegians had three.
“The more an athlete can image the entire package, the better it’s going to be.” Nicole Detling, United States Olympic team sports psychologist
Sports and business are a lot alike in that way. The business world is highly competitive. Winning is almost entirely mental. Visualization can get you through a tough presentation, help you nail a job interview, or change negative behavior that’s holding you back.
“The physical aspect of the sport can only take you so far, the mental aspect has to kick in, especially when you’re talking about the best of the best. In the Olympic games, everyone is talented. Everyone trains hard. Everyone does the work. What separates the gold medallists from the silver medallists is simply the mental game.” Shannon Miller, Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast
The more intense and realistic athletes can make their mental image of winning, the more effective visualization is as they try to reach goals. The same goes for highly competitive professionals.
When you make visualization part of your daily process, confidence, predictable performance, and winning become a simple extension of a mental pattern that begins well before the event or interaction.
Ready to give it a shot? Try this.
Making the habit of paying attention a priority helps successful people get to the top and stay there. Creating this type of success in your own life requires only a few moments of time here and there.
Use this quick visualization method to create a mental map of your success.
- Find a quiet place where you can close your eyes. Relax your body with purpose.
- Focus on your breathing for a few seconds. Clear your mind by acknowledging passing thoughts and allowing them to float away.
- Create a mental image of yourself in the setting where you’ll be performing, presenting, playing, or conversing.
- Engage your senses one by one. What do you see? What noise is in the space? Do you smell anything? What do you taste? What does your body feel?
- Seeing everything through your eyes in real time, visualize the situation second-by second as it unfolds.
- Make a reassuring positive statement.
- Pay attention to how your body feels as you are executing the actions required for a positive outcome.
- Try out a few different positive outcomes for this scenario.
- Feel the experience of the positive result.
- Imagine reacting in a composed and happy way to your success.
After completing this exercise, open your eyes and take a moment to reflect on which parts of the process were most enjoyable for you. It’s likely that you’ll experience immediate positive effects, but it takes time to fully develop this skill set.
At first, you may not have great control over your visualization of success.
It may even feel like your brain is working against you. When this happens, stop the visualization process at the point where it turns negative. Imagine re-winding the scene. Re-start the visualization with the intent of moving the action toward the success you want.
If you are still stuck, try working the event backwards in your imagination.
Start with the desired result and mentally walk back through all of the steps you took to get there. When you can go through this process without getting hung up on hypothetical obstacles, try the visualization method again from the beginning.
Understanding the visualization brain hack
- Visualization eliminates competitive anxiety as an obstacle to success. When you “see” the event unfolding with your mind’s eye, you help the part of your brain that is likely to panic trust that the situation is under your control.
- Top athletes feel the event happening as they visualize it. They use all of their senses to experience the success they desire.
- Creating a mental blueprint through visualization primes your muscles. While visualizing how you will move, feel, and behave, your brain fires electrical impulses to the appropriate muscle groups creating a “memory” that facilitates an identical performance.
- Sports psychologists use visualization to help athletes recover from injury faster. They use imagery scripts to help athletes take personal responsibility for healing, maintain their determination, and fully participate in the process.
- Visualization helps professionals drill down to their clear objectives. Eliminating conflicting goals boosts performance, reduces the time it takes to create intent, and helps to develop a vision for the future.
Here’s the science behind the brain hack that makes dreams come true
Scientific studies conducted on the minds and bodies of top athletes confirm that the type of powerful visualization exercise we are talking about here creates a measurable difference in overall performance.
Mental imagery and creative visualization creates a powerful shift that:
- Improves motor performance
- Primes the brain for success
- Increases motivation
- Decreases performance anxiety
- Offers a strong sense of control
- Encourages high goal setting
- Facilitates peak performance
- Improves the ability to cope with stress
- Supports confidence
- Encourages self-efficacy
In the ultra-competitive world of modern business where clear vision, simultaneous analytical and creative thinking, innovation, fearless determination, and the ability to withstand a constantly tumultuous environment are the building blocks for being the best, this skill will set you apart from your competition.
For professionals, using imagery and visualization is a scientifically proven way to easily harness your brain’s power and use it to determine your own destiny.
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