Sports Psychology For Youth Sports – Part 3

Sports psychology techniques are important tools in helping athletes achieve peak performance in sports these days.UFABET

Their importance has also filtered down to youth sports where visualization, routine setting and other sports psychology techniques are used to help young children in their development. In part 3 of this series, we will look at the use of mental imagery to help young athletes achieve peak performance in sports.

When using sports psychology, one can be commonly confused with the difference between visualization and mental imagery. What is the difference? How can they be properly understood and applied? In part 2 of this series of articles on using sports psychology to help develop peak performance in sports for young athletes, we define visualization as holding a mental image or a process, often a positive one, in our mind long enough for our subconscious mind to register, and subsequently use this to generate positive action for peak performance. This form of visualization technique is often applied at an individual level, where the practitioner concerned who devote time and energy to meditate, relax and mental picture positive outcomes and processes.

Mental imagery often deals with a sequence of events, actions or processes leading to the actual desired outcome. This form of mental imagery is also often applied collectively in team games for a better understanding of how the game plan need to be executed by the players. In this sense, mental imagery can extend to not just the skill or outcome being practiced and desired, but also the desired techniques and tactics involved in a game.

For example, a good example of visualization would be picturing in the mind a perfect baseball pitch by a pitcher. In his mind, he could imagine himself standing on the mound. Ball in gloves and staring intently at his catch at home plate. He than goes through in slow motion in his mind, the wound up of the delivery, ending in ball release point and the final follow through position of the pitching motion. This form of visualization is often done just before the skill is executed, whereby with practice, the practitioner could often mental visualize his skill in a few seconds. As for mental imagery for the same pitcher, he could imagine in his mind the sequence of actions to be taken following the activation of certain actions by other people around him.

After the pitch, the batter might swing and connect with the pitch. Ball is hit towards the first base man. The immediate reaction of the pitcher in his mind will be to run towards first base to provide cover for the firstbaseman. Next on his mind would be to be ready and in position to receive a pass from the firstbaseman. These sequence of tactical action, when imagined in the mind of the player constitute mental imagery or mental rehearsal. It it more related to other people on the field, and it is generally done during pre-game preparation by players. The coach is usually the facilitator of this form of sport psychology practice, as it is important for his players to rehearse in their mind tactical actions that he wants his players to take under different circumstances. In other words, mental imagery or mental rehearsals are situational and very dependent on people actions, done during pre-game. Whereas, visualization is more individually practiced for a very personal skill, and this can be done a few seconds prior to the action itself. One must not be confused by visualization and mental imagery and mental rehearsal.

This form of sports psychology is very unfamiliar ground for young athletes. Most of the time young athletes only focus on playing the game without realizing that this form of mental imagery and mental rehearsal practices can be used to enhance their performance in sports. Coaches need to introduce these form of mental imagery and mental rehearsal practices to their young charges so that they can practice and make this a habit for their quest for peak performance in sports. But at the start, young athletes might find mental imagery and mental rehearsal practices difficult and irrelevant. However, the coach must persist and instill this form of sport psychology practices into their programme. With time, mental imagery and mental rehearsal practices will become a part of the young athletes’ lives and they will carry on with them for the rest of their lives. It is recommended that these form of mental imagery and mental rehearsal practices are included at least once a week in the training programme. That way, children will not get sick and bored with it, and yet they are forced to practice something crucial to peak performance in sports.

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