Turn Your Footy Fantasies Into Realities: Visualization Technique

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"Without using visualization, the awe-inspiring thought in our brain remains trapped as a daydream and then is quickly lost somewhere within the unconscious mind." 

Daydreaming is a common characteristic amongst all Footy lovers. We are big daydreamers. We dream of World Cup glory, playing in front of thousands of screaming fans, the ball perfectly soaring off our boot into the upper corner (and the list goes on). The million dollar question is: How to translate those daydreams into reality? 

Enter: Directed Imagination a.k.a. "Visualization."

Benefits of Visualization:

Improves performance

Increases your focus and creativity

Decreases stress levels

Develops better self-concept and self-confidence

Reduces anxiety when the moment presents itself in reality

Helps modify specific behaviors

Visualization is the use of our directed imagination to implant particular images into our archetypal fields--in other words, we use our imaginations to create new pictures and possibilities of reality. When we attempt to understand concepts or master new skills, we create mental pictures and try to "act out" those representations in reality. 

Visualization translates the thinking experience from words into pictures. Einstein himself claimed his thought processes were mostly in pictures and rarely in words. Creating pictures in our imaginations changes our relation, reaction and perception of those events when they present themselves in physical reality. 

Without using visualization, the awe-inspiring thought in our brain remains trapped as a daydream and then is quickly lost somewhere within the unconscious mind. By utilizing these Footy Tips, you will be able to shorten the gap between your ambitious, fantastical daydreams and your realistic, actual development.

Note: This process is like a muscle. You can't perform it once and expect to immediately experience spectacular results. The more you do it, the more your mental imagery starts to shape your reality. 

Footy Tip

Before training/games/bed (anytime), rehearse 1 or 2 mental images of a desired play/move/tackle (whatever it may be to you). Sit in a comfortable position and in a distraction-free environment (if possible). If you are around distractions, listening to soft music with headphones can help create a secluded atmosphere. Now, visualize the skill, tactic, technique in three phases:

1st Phase—You are a separate bystander watching yourself perform the action as if on a movie screen. Notice every detail of the visual. What type of field you're playing on, what you're wearing, what the weather is like, what position you're playing etc. The point is to get specific and detailed before moving onto the second step. Set the stage for your imagery to "come to life" in the 2nd and 3rd stages. Repeat this step over and over until you are clear and ready to move on to the next stage. 

2nd Phase—Visualize that same play/movement through the eyes of one of your opponents on the field. How does your particular action/play look to them in the moment? What is he/she seeing from their point of view?

3rd Phase—First person, you are in your body looking through your eyes, performing this skill/technique with precision. Look down at your body, see yourself in the game, see your opponents in front of you, see the fans/coaches/spectators on the sideline. Be in the moment.

Notice the 5 senses:

  • What do you SEE? (Lighting/night game/jersey colors/shoes etc.)
  • What do you SMELL? (Smell of the grass/turf, sweat beading down your face etc.)
  • What do you FEEL? (Is your breathing shallow or deep, how does the jersey feel against your chest, what are you making the opponent feel in that moment? Scared/worried/intimidated?)
  • What do you TASTE? (Sweat, gum, Gatorade? Dry mouth?)
  • What do you HEAR? (fans/parents/players/coaches)

MAKE IT AS REAL AS POSSIBLE. Your brain does not innately distinguish your visualization from reality. Although you may "know" that you're visualizing at the moment, your brain is essentially reacting in the same way it does if the actual event is happening in real life. The more detailed you make your visualizations, the less your brain can distinguish real vs. imagined experience.

Note: In this 3rd stage you may even feel your muscles tighten, legs and arms move in the motion. This is a great sign that you're deeply experiencing your mental imagery. 

Footy Tip: Practice this using external images as inspiration. For instance, you may have just watched Cristiano Ronaldo beat three defenders and strike a beautiful far-post goal. Perfect. Go through the 3 steps of directed imagination using an external source like this, supplanting yourself into Ronaldo's point-of-view, performing and experiencing the exact action. This can be a useful exercise in accessing our intuition while internalizing and applying top-level skills and attributes.

 

Go influence the game