Athletic performance can actually be improved using the interaction between the mind and the body. That mind-body connection has giving athletes positive, reproducible results for over 20 years. If we consider Asian martial artist, we can increase this number to some hundreds of years. The only barrier in the way of the athlete is learning the process that improves athletic performance by enabling the mind-body connection.
Studies have shown that learning new behaviors are more easily achieved when we practice them first in our minds. Learning the guitar is done more easily when we practice the cords in our minds. Using visualization to ‘see’ the placement of each finger on the guitar over and over again decreases the learning curve to play the guitar.
Our minds function as a studio in which we rehearse our lines, movements and emotional content before the actual scheduled performance. For instance, athletic performance increases when the athlete visualizes the specific event in their minds several times before the actual event. World-class runners have been doing this for years. They spend a couple of days visualizing each step they will take over the route. They see landmarks, hills and they feel their breathing patterns for each part of the course.
The entire experience is accounted for in the mental rehearsal. Athletic performance will improve when they also visualize how they’ll take each water stop, and if they’ll eat food during longer distance races. Nothing is left to chance and no detail is too small. Once the brain has been over the race and believes the body will feel great the athlete has a significant advantage over their opponents.
This works because as we visualize we are creating, arranging and rearranging neural interactions in the brain that later tell the body what to do since it has already happened. Executives use this technique to visualize their performance in major meetings; wealthy people mentally experience the execution of goal strategies and their outcomes. The key is to not just do positive thinking but actually experience the desired outcome in virtual reality, as if it was the here and now.
Leave a comment below with suggestions of ways virtual performance can assist us in our health and fitness pursuits.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen“(Heb.11:1)