Mental Training for Athletes

Mental training can be done using visualization to see yourself in your “ideal” state. Making a shot in basketball, hitting a ball for a home run, making a perfect drive in golf or simply being totally focused on game day. Some visualization is done before the actual attempt like hitting a ball in baseball. Others are impossible to do it that time due to time constraints so they are visualized at a different time, usually on a daily basis as a routine. This mental training technique is sometimes called “Power Visualization” and can be extremely effective. It is used by athletes, business people and even for completing basic goals in people’s lives.


Visualization as a part of mental training refers to the practice of seeking to affect the outer world via changing one’s thoughts. Creative Visualization is the basic technique underlying positive thinking and is frequently used by athletes to enhance their performance. You will be involving as many senses as possible in your mind to make the picture vivid and alive. The more you can incorporate emotion and feeling to the technique, the more powerful it will become.

Using the goal you have set for yourself (making a perfect shot, hitting a home run, etc), you will visualize an aspect of your goal.  It can be a physical object or an act that you perform. The most powerful part of this technique is the effect it will have on your subconscious as a result of the emotions involved. Your subconscious can not tell the difference between imagination and reality. You need to immerse yourself into the emotions and the details of what you are imagining to make it appear real. This will stress your subconscious and it will go to work to help you. Athletes will visualize themselves playing every shot in a basketball game, blocking shots, making clean passes, etc and will “live in the moment” of every action in detail. The best athletes in the world all do this and do it before every competition because it works.

Your mental training routine will look like this:

  1. You need to prepare your mind to visualize so get comfortable and start to use controlled breathing to relax your body and mind. Take a deep breathe and hold it for 3 seconds and slowly let it out. Repeat the process a total of 10 times to get to a state of full relaxation.
  2. Visualize your goal and see yourself accomplishing your goal. Your mental picture needs to be vivid to be effective so use as many of your senses as you can. Feel, taste, smell, sight and sound. Put all the detail into it that you can.
  3. Keep visualizing until you feel yourself getting increasingly excited about what you can accomplish. Feeling joy is a sign that you are doing it correctly and this will affect your subconscious as well. Involving your subconscious will help you achieve what you visualize.
  4. With feeling as excited as you should with this process, you will need to bring yourself back to reality correctly or you will feel quite sluggish and worn out. Simply repeat the process from step one above to relax yourself from your excited state.
  5. Perform this routine once a day to see its full effects. In a lot of cases, athletes will do it just before practicing so they can develop the connection between visualization and the skill itself.

An example of mental toughness from someone we all recognize… Kobe Bryant. He has a superhuman tolerance to pain. His mental toughness, mental focus, unmatched. Probably the most mentally focused/tough player to ever play. This is what separates Kobe from average players…


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