In our previous post we provided you with an overview of what Mental Rehearsal is, and some studies to prove it’s validity. This time we will dive into it’s benefits, applications and risks, as well as show you the many different methods of Mental Rehearsal.
You can find many different methods to mentally rehearse spread across the internet. It’s important to know that there isn’t a perfect method and your experiences will be different each time. How specific you decide to be will play a huge role in deciding which method to use.
Macro Visualization (The Theatre in your Mind)
As you continue to improve, you will find yourself in situations that your body can handle, but your mind cannot. For example, being on a huge stage with a crowd of people behind you. Playing the match that will get you out of pools. Facing someone who is considered better than you, that you have watched or look up to. This small list of variables can create a form of stress and fear that override your known capabilities.
You’ve made it this far, you’ve faced and learned from many losses. So, is it that you fear losing or is it something else? Can you handle the idea of winning?
Alternatively, maybe you keep struggling with on stream pressure, or making it to the next part of your bracket. Last but not least, maybe you’ve never been to a tournament before. Using this method can account and prepare you for these scenarios.
- Separate yourself from all of your devices for at least 10-15 minutes.(Games, Phones, Computers, etc.) Find a quiet place where you will have no interruptions. Your goal is to help your brain take a break from the hyper stimulation and open your mind up to add new information. Allow yourself to think out the distracting thoughts and refocus them into what you want to rehearse or visualize. Remember to narrow it down to something specific and realistic.
- Now that you have decided on your specific scenario, close your eyes and begin to visualize yourself there. Become an active participant in your visualization. So, if you are visualizing yourself on stage at a major tournament, don’t watch yourself from behind, put yourself there actually playing the game. Imagine the walk onto the stage, sitting down, plugging in. Choosing your music, starting your match. Feel your controller, keyboard, the crowd. Play the game.
- Recreate and emulate the emotions associated with your visualization. Imagine the obstacle you are trying to overcome. Visualize until you feel those emotions. Fear, anxiety, nervousness. Take a mental account for other variables such as crowd noise, lights, or playing from a losing position. Try to really feel as though you are in the moment.
- Slow your breathing and start to imagine the exact same scenario, but this time without all of the stressful emotions. Breathe out until you become fully relieved from the stress while you continue to visualize. This will instinctively help you reduce your stress level when you are actually in the moment. This practice demonstrates to your brain that you are capable of not having the negative emotions at all.
- Give yourself affirmations about yourself and your current visualizations. Remind yourself of your confidence. You have conquered the negative emotions, you have confirmed to yourself that you are capable. Reinforce the idea that you belong on that stage or at that tournament.
- Finish being an active participant and take an additional 10-15 minutes to absorb the information.
What can this accomplish?
This long winded form of Mental Rehearsal works to cognitively remap your brain. It takes your reactionary responses to stressful situations and re-frames them into learning and fulfillment moments. By practicing your coping mechanisms for stress during a simulation, it allows use to refocus energy into a desired outcome and action. This creates and opens the door to new healthy mental behavioral pathways, which allows for better learning and improvement. Not to mention in the moment performance. The more you perform these rehearsals you strip away all of the distracting emotions that constrict your ability to take true responsibility for your performance and growth.
What are the risks?
One of the best things about mental rehearsal is there are limited risks due to being a simulation. However, the possibility of creating an unrealistic expectation does exist. Since every outcome of the procedure is ideal, you may attempt to equate what you visualize to a result. I recommend that you visualize actions and specific scenarios instead of results. Remember the goal is to open your mind up to taking true responsibility for your growth, creating a landslide of emotions because your vision did not come true will only add to your list of obstacles.
Not every method of Mental Rehearsal will take this long form procedure. This method can be reserved for introspection, large goals, and overcoming obstacles outside of the game.
In the next post, I will explore the other methods of Mental Rehearsal that you can utilize before and during tournaments.