Apr 20, 2020 • 3 min read
Getting sidelined for any reason—be it a pandemic or an injury—can feel discouraging, but the downtime can actually help athletes return to play even stronger. One of the easiest ways to do it? Visualization: It’s not only a tried-and-true Olympians’ secret, it’s backed by science. Research has shown that seeing ideal performance or even strength-building exercises in the mind’s eye can not only improve skills, but also boost physical strength. In fact, one study out of the University of Chicago found that visualization can improve sports performance nearly as much as practice! Researchers had one group of athletes come to the gym for 30 days to practice free throws, and another group come to the gym, close their eyes and visualize themselves sinking baskets. The group who practiced improved their performance by 24%—and the group who just imagined themselves making baskets improved by 23%!
Of course, it’s still wise to continue exercising as often as possible, but it definitely can’t hurt to add visualization to the downtime training mix. Here’s how to do it:
This may sound woo-woo, but it actually works! Try visualizing your goal before you sleep at night for at least a few weeks. You may catch your Z’s more easily, and as an added bonus, likely experience a boost in confidence.
Lara Rosenbaum is an award-winning journalist and wellness expert whose work has appeared in Women’s Health, Shape, Men’s Health, Runner’s World, Men’s Journal, Prevention, Yoga Journal and other publications. Lara is also a former elite athlete, having traveled the world as a member of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team.