Imagery – a quick guide to confidence through imagery

Hey guys, it’s me, Coach Rebecca. Today I want to talk to you about building confidence through imagery. We are in season for a lot of us as high-level gymnasts. I just want to jump right in and tell you that there are three things that you need to unlock your peak potential in sport. If you want to have the best meet of your life, the best season of your life, you literally need just three things.

Mental toughness training is like baking a cake. There is a super clear formula. It’s been tested and re-tested. Based on research and evidence we see that if you fold in these certain ingredients, you’ll be mind-blown to see just what you are capable of.

Those three things

So what are those three things?

  • Awareness
  • Confidence
  • Self- trust

When you build those three things you will become the athlete you were meant to be. Today let’s focus on confidence.

Building Confidence

There are truly six ways to but today I want to focus on one of my favorite mental confidence tools. This tool is my favorite because it works, and it works fast.

I want you to think about the mind-body connection. When your mind and your body are connected and you are performing it doesn’t take any thinking. For an athlete who has an automated skill, I like to use the kip in gymnastics which is just a way of getting on the bar. It’s hard to learn when you first try it, but once you have it becomes second nature and it’s easy. You don’t have to think about it, you do it all the time. You say kip, your body does kip.

The mind and body connection are the same for negative thoughts too. If you are thinking ” Oh I am so nervous” “I can’t do this” your body is going to believe your mind and not follow through. Your brain is always giving your body instructions, whether you realize it or not.

Brain instructions for confidence

Your muscles and your brain are all connected on a superhighway. If we are always giving our body instructions, let’s make sure that they are purposeful and headed toward building confidence. This technique that I love so much is called imagery. You might have heard it called visualization. You give your brain a set of purposeful instructions, then your brain decodes those into a sequence of physical movements that make it seem almost easy to do the skill you are training.

To have full effect, to be successful, you need a complete set of instructions. It’s not just visual, you need all the senses to buy into this set of instructions. You need to believe it feels like it’s real. The more real it feels the more complete and easy it is to follow those instructions for confidence become.

Imagery in the gym

For example, let’s say that you have a skill that you want to have nailed by this weekend. It’s not just a matter of closing your eyes and imagining you are watching yourself doing the skill you are after. You actually get yourself relaxed and set the scene as if you are in your virtual reality. You are seeing the gym through your own eyes, you are feeling your feet walking on the mat, feeling your hands touching the beam. You’re looking around and seeing who is there in the gym, you are smelling the chalk and the feet. You hear the voices and loud music in the gym around you. Now you go through the skill through your eyes in your virtual reality, and you nail it while taking in all the sights and sounds.

Once you do this for a while, you imagine yourself completing a task while surrounded by all of the sights, smells, tastes, and sounds of a busy gym preparing your brain and body to actually complete those tasks in that busy type of environment. It creates a very clear picture of what confident success looks like and your body goes “okay boss, I got this”.

Benefits of imagery

If your bar routine is 20 seconds long, 25 seconds max, you can do imagine doing a lot of really great bar routines in your mind, whereas you can maybe only hit five before your hands are begging you to not do any more routines. Your body might be exhausted but in your mind you are strong, you are powerful, and you can imagine yourself nailing so many more routines. For every routine, you actually hit on the bar you hit another in your mind that is just a little better, a little easier.

Imagery confidence on the big day

You start to get excited about nailing both the routines in the gym and the ones in your mind. What’s happening is that superhighway of information between your brain and your body and muscles is lighting up like crazy for both gym routines and imagery routines. When you do it in your mind your body reacts the exact same way that it does when you do it physically. It is called functional equivalents. It functions equivalently the same way as if you were actually doing it. Your brain just delivers that clear set of instructions so that you can get up on the bar on the big day and trust yourself!

Things to watch out for during imagery

Before I wrap up I just want to touch on a few things that are common mistakes while trying to practice imagery.

A lot of kids struggle with focus. The human race in general struggles with focus. But you have to train that focus first or your imagery can be all over the place. To have an awesome, powerful imagery experience you have to really be able to focus on that virtual reality. That is a lot of what we do at Perform Happy, we help kids build that regularity, the accountability, and do all of the little things that are going to make all the difference in their competition.

If you or your kiddo is having a hard time focusing or creating that confidence-improving imagery feel free to reach out to our team at Perform Happy. We are offering FREE consultations to see if our programs are a good fit for you and your athlete. If that sounds like something you are interested in click here to get a FREE consult scheduled!

Is your gymnast struggling with mental blocks or fear?  Check out my FREE resource for parents.