I recently published an article on Of Horse about different ways that top performers use visualizaition. I wanted to share it with you (read it here) and give you some insight into why it’s such a valuable tool for riders. In the article, I talk about 3 ways top performers use visualization. Instead of just imaging the “perfect performance”, they use it as a tool to work through challenges and plan for difficulties.
- They actually see themselves working through issues in the show pen, instead of just having a perfect go.
- They visualize as a way to work through training and practice issues, to help get their riding to the next level.
- They make sure that they are getting their physical practice done in addition to their mental training.
There is no perfection, only perfect effort.
This is an important point, because for many of us, excellence seems effortless. Because we are naturally good at certain things, we assume that this is true for everyone in every situation.
We tend to shy away from things that we aren’t as good at, and focus on our strengths instead. Top performers actually embrace the challenge of trying and failing. They view failure through a lens of growth, seeing it as a way to improve skills through learning. They are excited about stretching their limits, and understand that practice and diligence can produce big results. They say things to themselves like, “I don’t have the skills to do flying lead changes right now, but with enough practice, I’ll master them.”
Be careful how you talk to yourself, because you are listening.
Both scientific studies and real-world examples have proved that this type of mindset actually produces big results. Something as simple as the way you talk to yourself about yourself provides the means to improve performance. Without the proper mindset, using tactics and tools such as visualization, breathing, and meditation will produce limited results. In fact, many people try them briefly, only to be left dissapointed with the results.
It seems that successful people are witholding some “special secret” or that they are just “born lucky”. The fact is, top performers understand that creating the right mental climate is an essential prerequisite to using sports psychology “tools” correctly.