The Most Effective Way to Use Visualization

Carli-Lloyd-Word-Artby Angelo A. Rossetti, USPTA Elite/PTR Professional, USTA HP & Mental Skills Certified & 2x Guinness World Records™ holder 

Although the term “visualization” is commonly used among top athletes not everyone understands it or does it correctly.

According to the book tennis science, how player and racket work together, the definition of visualization is “The act of imagining an outcome or result of an action – such as the placing of a shot, the execution of a particular move, or even the result of a match. Visualizing a successful outcome is a psychological tool for bolstering confidence and improving performance.”

Try this exercise. Imagine yourself playing tennis or any sport. Visualize you doing what you do best. Now, take a moment and think about whether you “see yourself performing” the action like it was on video or TV or do you “see yourself through your own eyes”.

Carli Lloyd once shared at a recent mental toughness conference that she’d “spend time in my room with my headphones on visualizing.” “I’d actually visualized that we were down (in the World Cup finals) … 2-0 and I came in and scored the winning goal. Ever since that moment I’ve been visualizing.” She ended up not only scoring the winning goal in the World Cup final but also securing a hat trick of 3 goals, scoring the first 2 goals and her third goal from midfield. If one of the world’s best soccer players and athletes prioritizes visualization so much, it’s something that you should adopt as part of your training as well.

If you are using visualization by seeing yourself doing it and not through your own eyes then you are limiting the power of imagery because you are only using the visual sense rather than all five of our primary senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. (There are more senses, however, that involve the use of multiple sensory organs like awareness of balance (equilibrioception), pressure, temperature (thermoception), pain (nociception), and motion.) It is much more effective to use imagery as if you are performing a task through your own eyes because you utilize all of your senses. You can smell the fresh fuzz of a new can of tennis balls, you can feel the smooth grip of your handle, you can sense your mouth salivating on that easy overhead smash as you hear yourself make solid contact. You get where I’m going with this. If you train yourself to visualize by using all of your senses then your results will be much more effective.

Put yourself in the moment rather than watching yourself in the moment. Be a participant with your visualization not a spectator. Most people stifle their results by conducting visualization incorrectly. Make sure to use imagery the right way to optimize your results.

Additional reading: tennis science – how player and racket work together, edited by Machar Reid, Bruce Elliott & Miguel Crespo

I always welcome feedback at angeloarossetti @ gmail .com.

You can learn more about a couple of tennis GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ that I have been a part of:

FOX News Story
Inspirational Tennis Story: Tennis Begins with Love
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The Most Effective Way to Use Visualization