Performance Visualization and Imagery for Cricket
Visualization in Cricket Mental Training is one of the central building blocks of your cricket success.
I call it a 'secret' because so many people try to go the long way around to success in cricket, they hitch their success wagon to the conscious mind, which has limited powers to create, they then wait and hope ... and wait a bit longer.
They then wonder why they haven't got better.
(check out my personal story and that of Marilyn King in this section)
The crucible of creation is the Imagination, using both visualization and imagery, it is no different in cricket.
Visualization and Imagery communicate directly with the subconscious mind, they have the power to re-structure the wiring and building blocks of the cricketers' memories and beliefs.
They literally re-structure the neural circuits of the brain.
The new wiring gets constructed through practicing the exercises.
This really is the secret and it is much faster than trying to think your way to cricket success with your conscious mind.
The term Visualization has become a broad term to describe anything to do with imagining, even noted authors and sports psychologists bandy it around without discriminating important distinctions.
Visualization and Imagery are two different tools of the imagination.
Visualization is the perspective where the individual is outside themselves watching themselves perform, as if it were on a tv screen in their imagination.
This gives perspective and is less emotionally involved than Imagery.
This is great for learning and for correcting your own performance.
Imagery is where the individual is inside themselves, they are the actor looking through their own eyes, particpating in their performance, batting, bowling, fielding, wicketkeeping.
It is more powerful for wiring in new performance programs, it has greater feeling, it is actually you experiencing your performance when you are doing the imagery.
Self Esteem Sets The Parameters Of All Goal Achievement
There are a couple of important 'mind rules' to be aware of when visualizing and imaging, they are intrinsically tied to the quality of your goal setting.
The scope of your visualization is shaped by what you believe to be true about yourself and what you can achieve as a cricketer.
If you believe that you have limited talent and capacity to get better at your game, you will end up setting small, impotent goals.
Your subconscious mind will configure itself to the scope of your beliefs about yourself and your goals and do its best to help you to fulfill them.
Small Goal = Small Result
This isn't meant to suggest that we don't break our goals down into bite sized chunks, we do, but our goals need to be challenging and to stretch us.
So your self esteem, how you perceive yourself is central to this process.
I have never met a successful cricketer who has had a low opinion of themselves.
Self esteem sets the scope and parameters of your achievement in cricket.
It also sets the scope of your self confidence, it doesn't matter how good your skills are, with no confidence to back up your skills you aren't going to go very far.
For many cricketers, they don't have a high opinion of themselves and this unfortunately really does impact how far they go with developing their game.
The first thing we need to do is give ourselves permission to do well, myself and Rayma Ditson Sommer have found in our work with athletes and performers working across many fields, that this makes the mental skills work go quicker and opens up the 'possibility and probability' of real and dramatic improvement.
Most of the time, the cricketer needs to get out of their own way.
Remember, Self Esteem sets the scope and parameters of all goal achievement.
What do you do if you have low self esteem?
A section of the Visualization and Imagery exercises has a part built into it to deal with this, to help you get past your negative beliefs about yourself.
Discovering the Power of the Subconscious Mind
As you create a strategy for a specific Goal – it is important to clearly define the performance area and the goal.
The more specific the better – the greater the chance of success.
e.g.: Rather than setting a goal that is simply – ‘I want to play better’ – Be definite and specific.
I want to improve my strock ball, my throwing from the boundary, my cover drive, my slip catching by 25% in the next 3 weeks.
Creating the Goal Strategy – 3 Steps
1.Identify the performance areas and the changes you would like.
Write it down:
This is what I do, that I want to improve ...
This is what I wish were different ...
This is how I would like to change...
Motivation: How important is it for me to change on a scale of 1- 10 ?
10 is Total.
How committed am I on a scale of 0-10 ?
10 is Total.
2. Identify the benefits
Describe to yourself the ways in which you would benefit by improving your performance and changing the situation.
List as many benefits as you can think of.
3.Picture and Imagine yourself performing as you desire.
If you may, remember a time when you were previously performing at your best, how did it feel? How did you act?
If you have always under performed in this area, imagine what it would be like to perform to your potential, as you desire.
How would you feel?
How would you act?
Imagery and Visualization Exercise
Choose something very familiar and comfortable at home.
What can you see? Look around….. notice the different objects, furniture, fittings and colours.
When you are inside your body, looking out, this is the associated Imagery perspective.
Now imagine seeing yourself in this space, notice your posture, how you look, the colour of the objects and things around you.
You may choose to watch yourself perform a simple task, like going to the fridge and taking something out and eating it.
( When you look at yourself from the outside this is the dis-associated Visualization perspective)
Be clear on what you want to change and how you want it.
Begin with your performance breathing exercise or relaxation script to get deeply relaxed.
You may put the whole script, relaxation, permission and visualization(two movie screen exercise below), in that order, onto a mp3 or cd or get a friend to read it to you to help facilitate this process.(never listen to this whilst driving or operating machinery)
Self Esteem: On your script you may include a permission section for self esteem. In your deeply relaxed state after your relaxation exercise and before you go into your Imagery, repeat each three times, take your time and feel them :
'I love, admire and respect myself.'
'I give myself permission to be free, to be all that I can be, each and every day.'
Then you will move into your Visualization and Imagery work. You will use the Movie Screen Technique.
When you go through these steps yourself and know what you desire in ‘the relaxation state’ you will be able to use these images while relaxing to let your mind and body know the way you want to behave, act and feel.
Two Movie Screens: To sort out and understand the present performance goals.
The screen serves as a framework for reflecting on ‘your’ performance:
Once you are relaxed : begin by imagining being in a movie theatre, the screen is divided into two, 2 sections or 2 panels.
Split Screen Performance Enhancement:
The left screen is the present situation – what you are doing now, that you would like to change.
The right screen is the way ‘you’ want to look, feel and perform in ... (time: 1 week, 1 month etc).
Let the movies play, just watch, understand and learn.
Be Clear – Specific – and Time Phased about your goal.
The Split Screen shows where you are now and where you will be – see it clearly and specifically.
When you are comfortable and you are happy you have taken the learning from the left screen, let it dissolve and disappear.
As the the screen on the left shrinks into the background, let the screen on the right become big and full of colour and sound.
Step into the right screen and feel, think and act totally as you desire.
Let the key aspects of your performance flow, smoothly and effortlessly.
Immerse yourself in this.
When you are comfortable and happy with your performance, you can step out at any time and end the movie. Its all in your control.
When you go through these steps yourself and know what you desire in ‘relaxation’ you will be able to use these images while relaxing to let your mind and body know the way you want to behave, act and feel.
You can then ‘prescribe’ the exercise for yourself two or three times a day for at least 90 seconds each time.
Create an exercise that is achievable.
Motivation and Understanding are keys to success – this combination should be your goal when you create your own exercises:
This isn't a magic wand to change what challenges us.
But, you have the power within you, with that power you can change your beliefs, your behaviour, your responses and your previously uncontrolled automatic responses.
Your mental focus, controlling it, accepting the things you cannot change, including other peoples behaviour. You can then focus more clearly on what is possible to change and control: Yourself.
The power to change belongs to the individual – to ‘Me’. It lies dormant in most of us, all the materials are there for us to light this magic fire. To light this fire though we must go inside – into ‘Self’
In the Star Wars series of movies there is a lovely example –
The hero, Luke Skywalker, is trying to do what he thinks is impossible, raise his ship from a swamp, Yoda helps him to understand that in order to use the power, he has to accept he has it.
Don’t rest upon others belief in yourself – begin to act as if you have the power. Let go and stop ‘trying’, act and the power will work through us, it’s not a conscious process.
The power to change belongs to the individual, it’s your response-ability
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