During my recovery periods from skating injuries (broken toe and ankle, strained knee, lower back, and groin, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints), I practiced guided imagery when I wasn't able to train on the ice. I watched videos of myself performing jumps. Then I would imagine the feeling in my body for each of the jumps.
Some strategies for guided imagery:
For this example, I'll use pull-ups.
Closing your eyes, take a deep breath in and feel your core engaged.
Feel your lat muscles engaging.
Imagine how it feels to lift yourself.
Start small. See if you can feel one muscle group engaging as you're visualizing.
So why does guided imagery work?
1. Through Motivation General Mastery (MG-M), a specific type of guided imagery focuses on the details of our optimal performance and our ability to overcome challenging situations. In this type, we imagine ourselves as competent and confident. With practice and mastery, guided imagery allows us to improve our confidence levels through decreased anxiety.
2. A specific type of guided imagery, Motivation General Arousal (MG-A), pinpoints our ability to regulate our level of performance anxiety. Through relaxation exercises and the focus on physical sensations, athletes use MG-A to feel at ease prior to the competitive event.
3. Cognitive Specific (CS) is primarily based on specific sports skills (ex: penalty shot in hockey)”, while imagining the process required in the skill. CS is most effective when combined with MG-A to mimic the arousal states perpetuated by the real-life event.
Some helpful tips for using guided imagery:
1. Shift the meaning of this image
Let's say that you are using guided image for a goal on the field. Seeing the goal as a challenge as opposed to pressure can help athletes improve their skills and be more effective. This reinterpretation influences our level of confidence.
2. Practice, practice, practice
Visualize movements and engage physically in the movement (imagine doing the movements yourself). Start with simpler images (e.g. visualize the field), and then progress to more complex ones (e.g., imagine specific sports skills).
Most of the studies have covered the effective nature of imagery to the extent that it improves skills and strategy acquisition, whereas fewer studies have focused on the cognitive restructuring and how imagery impacts arousal and anxiety. It has been found that CS imagery is more effective than MS imagery. MG-A is only helpful when used with CS imagery because of the visualization of movements required in skill attainment
Movement Imagery Questionnaire (MIQ, Hall & Pongrac, 1983; MIQ-Revised, Hall & Martin, 1997).
Roberts, R., Callow, N. , Hardy, L., Markland, D., & Bringer, J. (2008). Movement imagery ability: Development and assessment of a revised version of the Vividness of Movement Imagery Questionnaire, Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 30, 200-221.
Vividness of Movement Imagery Questionnaire (VMIZ; Issac, Marks, & Russell, 1986).
Short, S.E., Tenute, A., & Feltz, D.L. (2005). Imagery use in sport: Mediational effects for efficacy. Journal of Sports Sciences, 23(9), 951-960.