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Mental Imagery in Sports

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Sports psychology deals with the functions and nature of the mind. The strong connection between mental and physical are essential in any sport for success. In order to consistently sustain and maintain athletic performance as well as improve and motivate, an athlete must train both body and mind (http://www.faqs.org/sports-science/Sc-Sp/Sport-Psychology.html ). For my chosen sport, tennis, I will discuss the various mental aspects which the sport involve and how they affect my performance. An analysis of my current skill level, strengths and weaknesses must be done in order to determine which aspects need improvement. The main focus will be on mental imagery and the various uses of it, in addition to how to use the technique effectively. To asses my current skill level, there is an international ranking system based on the capabilities of the player that coincides to a number ranging from 1 to 10. Here is a brief table of the criteria that relates to my level of play: Table 1: International Tennis Number (ITN) ...read more.


To improve upon these areas, there is not much about my technique that can be changed. Repetition and practice must be enforced to help strengthen my backhand and to make shots more 'autonomous' and natural. Fitness is another key aspect which requires training; cardio work is required to help improve my lung capacity and enable me to sustain myself in long rallies. But that is the physical aspect; the mental game requires a different approach. In stressful situations, the technique of mental imagery or rehearsal comes into play. By picturing oneself executing the shot you are about to hit perfectly and exactly where you want it to go, it focuses concentration and helps to block out distractions; at the same time building confidence. During visualization, the brain is directing the target muscles to work in a desired way (http://www.faqs.org/sports-science/Us-Z-and-bibliography/Visualization-in-Sport.html). In tennis, you are by yourself, one-on-one with your opponent. With actual point play only lasting anywhere from 6 seconds to a minute, between each point there is a short break where the player collects a ball if necessary and moves to the other side of the court to either serve or return. ...read more.


A great example of a player with strong mental ability is Roger Federer. He shows almost no emotion during his matches and is able to deal with pressure to win those important, tournament deciding points. There are many who have achieved the title of the world number one in tennis but many have also struggled to keep it. Roger Federer with his sound mental game managed to remain at the number one spot for a record of 237 consecutive weeks, smashing the previous record of 160 consecutive weeks by Jimmy Connor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Federer). It is people like Roger that players must look up to as a positive role model. Many players of all different sports can apply mental techniques. It is important not only to focus on the techniques and physicality of the sport but the mental side as well. A player with gifted physical ability is nothing without being able to concentrate and perform to their best at a consistent, high level. If you are striving to be the best, developing strong psychological strategies is a necessity. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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