As I have said many times before, I follow the NFL pretty closely throughout the season, especially when the playoff picture is starting to form. The Pittsburgh Steelers looked like they were going to have a phenomenal season winning their first 11 games of the year. However, they then lost to the Washington Football Team in a game that seemed to shock the football world.
I think what has been even more remarkable, though, is not that they lost that first game but that they continued to lose two more games after that. This is certainly not intended to be a knock on the Steelers, but I think it speaks to the truth that things seem to get easier when someone else accomplishes a certain feat. The Steelers seemed like they couldn’t be beaten…until they were. Then, they were beaten again and again.
Someone was finally able to beat the Steelers this year, and then multiple other teams followed suit. When someone finally broke the notorious 4:00 mile mark, that was quickly followed by many people accomplishing the same feat within the same year that it was originally beaten. The same can be said for climbing difficult mountains like summiting Mount Everest or even any particularly difficult task.
I think this is something that many of us can relate to. When a coach asks for volunteers to be the first ones to try a new drill or run a new play, the number seems to be limited as to who wants to go first. It becomes easier for many of us once we see other players do something as if it sends a message to our brains saying, “Oh yes, we can do that, too.” It is like our confidence can increase from seeing other people achieve something even if it is not ourselves doing the feat.
With that being said, how great would it be if we were able to increase our confidence from seeing ourselves accomplish something that we have been working towards for a while or even over a short period of time.
Do you want to hear some good news!? You can do exactly that by using mental imagery!
Many of us are starting 2021 off with some new year’s resolutions, but sometimes we may find ourselves automatically feeling negative about how we are going to achieve these goals. For example, if you are setting a goal of losing 50 pounds this year, that may seem to be a difficult task for you to achieve. However, sometimes seeing other people achieve that goal is helpful for keeping you motivated to keep moving towards that goal.
What if you pictured yourself achieving that goal, though? Using mental imagery can help you figure out how you are going to achieve a goal, so when you actually set out to do so it feels as if you have already done a “practice run.”
Mental imagery can certainly go into much more detail, but let’s start with the basics. Think about that goal that you are wanting to accomplish. For example, are you hoping to master a new shot in basketball or run a new route in football? Put yourself in a comfortable position sitting with your feet on the floor or laying down somewhere. Close your eyes. Begin by taking some deep breaths, in and out.
As you begin to feel more relaxed and like your mind is beginning to clear, I want you to picture yourself achieving your goal. Feel the ball in your hands if you are wanting to hit the shot. See yourself put your hands on the ball and pull up for the shot. Imagine yourself on the specific spot on the court that you want to be. The same can be said for the football scenario. Imagine yourself on the line of scrimmage. What position are your feet in? You hear the quarterback call for the ball, and you take off. Feel yourself running, and imagine yourself moving your feet perfectly at the right time to run the new route. Where are your eyes looking? Are you seeing the ball come to your hands?
Using mental imagery is a helpful tool when we are wanting to achieve a new goal as we can practice working towards that goal through our minds. For some of us, seeing is believing, and if we can picture ourselves achieving our goals, we are more likely to believe that we will be able to accomplish it.