Positive Mental Imagery
 
 

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Newsletter March 2010


From time immemorial we have idolized world-class athletes and wished we had their athletic talent to be great. Beginning with the strength and agility of gladiators we have carried this image right to the present Olympic athletes. Not all world-class athletes are born with this talent although we would like to believe that premise as it gives us an excuse for our lack of persistence, desire and practice.

 

The Olympian is searching for the one perfect performance every four years. Golfers have the high expectation of believing they can create that perfect performance every time they play. The key to performing at your peak performance is giving it your personal best effort every time.

 

What are the characteristics of an Olympic athlete?

  • They have a burning desire to do their best
  • They enjoy the spirit of their sport
  • They see the journey to improve as an adventure
  • They compete in the honor and glory of the sport
  • They have a desire to be the best in the world
  • They believe they will be ready to deliver the performance of a lifetime
  • They compete at their personal best, and never, never, never give up
  • They are brave, have conviction and pride in themselves
  • They feel the magic that invades the human heart
  • They dream of creating the impossible
  • Their pledge is the true spirit of sportsmanship
  • They abide by the rules of the sport that governs it
  • They risk failure in front of millions of people

 

United States broke the record for the most medals (37) ever won at a Winter Games.  The Olympic athletes created the time of their lives whether they won a medal or not. Let’s look at some of the events at the Winter Games and see what we can learn from the success of these athletes performing under the pressure of the whole world watching.

 

Biathalon

This is a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting that has always fascinated me. Biathlon skiers are not only physically fit but mentally fit. They ski around a cross country track up and down hills through the forest. The total distance is broken up by either two or four shooting rounds, half in a prone position, the other half standing. They shoot a rifle at a target five times from a distance of 160 feet. If they miss the bulls eye they have to ski a penalty loop, which adds to their time before they can continue the race. The winner is the skier with the shortest total time.

After sprinting for miles, how do they slow down their breathing and heart rate so they can hold the rifle still enough to aim at the target? Experiments in biofeedback have shown that we can control our heart rate and blood pressure by conscious skill training. Peaceful thoughts and quiet, relaxing images can slow down the heart rate. Anger and tension is the opposite and can raise the heart rate and breathing. Other biathlon skiers train by using the method of taking deep breaths to slow down the body and mind.

Bobsled Runs

The bobsled run is like falling out of a 70-story building and steering a one-man luge sled going 90 mph. Did you know their gloves have spikes on them to help them get off to a faster start by pulling on the ice? Their goal is to go as fast as possible and steer the sled on the fastest route on the ice track. Fear has no place in the minds of these bobsledders because they are totally focused on steering their sled.

 

Short-track Speed Skating

Short-track speed skating is reminiscent of the rough and tumble roller derby. Apolo Ohno disagreed with the officials ruling to DQ him in the 500, but accepted their decision gracefully. Confidence and being sure you are right are not quite the same. When you have enough confidence, you can even accept being mistaken. There is not always one way. Even when you are right, you can be wrong. Apolo had the confidence to be the all-time winter record holder of eight Olympic medals. In his mind he visualizes a line on the ice to follow.

 

Curling

Curling is a team sport in which heavy, polished granite stones are slid across a sheet of carefully prepared ice, called a curling sheet, towards a circular target area called the house. During the Olympics there were many newscasters who made fun of this game because they did not understand it. Two teams of four players each take turns sliding the stones toward the circular target marked on the ice. The rock may be further influenced by two sweepers with brooms who accompany it as it slides down the sheet, using the brooms to alter the state of the ice in front of the stone. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game, points being scored for the stones resting closest to the centre of the house at the conclusion of each

 

If you watched the curling events you saw the intense concentration of the curler, almost in a prone position focusing on the line to release the stone. With a deft touch the curler can induce a curved path by causing the stone to slowly turn as it slides. It brought up the image of the intense focus of Camilo Villegas crouching down in a half-squat, half-push-up position to drop his eyes to green level to line up his putts.

 

Half Pipe Snowboarding

Half pipe snowboarders torque their bodies to snap their bodies to rotate and spin in the opposite direction that they are going to spin, as do skaters. Shawn White the gold medalist soared up to 20 feet over the lip of the pipe to create his “big air” maneuvers.  Shawn was quoted as saying, “I do it (create new maneuvers) for the love of the sport.” Our top golfers create new shots for the same reason.

 

Shelly Clark, the US 2002 Olympic gold medal snowboard winner at age 18 sings before her performance. Many athletes prior to their events are plugged into their earphones listening to music to achieve the state of mind-body-spirit where they can perform best. There are two ways to get you ready; music to charge you up, or music to relax you. PGA Tour golfer Greg Norman listened to heavy metal rock music during his physical body workouts. Golfers can achieve a state of relaxation by listening to Largo music which has the beat of 60 beats per minute, the same as a heart at rest.

 

Arial Skiers

The aerial skiers go 30mph to propel themselves 45 feet in the air to have time to complete their maneuvers. US aerial skier Jeret "Speedy" Peterson’s signature move, the “hurricane” involves 3 flips and 5 twists. He stuck it in Vancouver in his final jump of the men’s aerials, and moved from fifth to second place to win the silver medal.

 

Did you watch the aerial skiers, snowboarders and ice skaters rehearsing their maneuvers standing still moving their arms while they were waiting their turn? Mental practice is the conscious mental rehearsal of a task prior to performance. It is an effective means of enhancing performance. When you visualize every shot in the first three holes of golf you are about to play, you will enhance your performance on those holes.

 

Downhill Ski Racers

The downhill race is about nerves of steel and very sharp edges to find the fastest line down the course of ice. The downhill is about course preparation. The skiers call it course inspection, memorizing every little turn where they want to go. Speeds can be up to 80-90mph in sections on the course. Since the racers can’t see where they are going they have to have the course perfectly memorized and just let their muscles respond.  Competitive golfers have been known to walk the golf course backward to inspect it for precise course management.

 

Bode Miller, acknowledged now as the greatest Alpine ski racer in U.S. history showed his determination by winning the super combined gold medal after participating in four winter Olympics. “The way I skied these last (three) races is what’s important,” said Miller, who won a medal of each color at the Vancouver Games. “I would have been proud of that skiing with a medal or not.” Miller said, “I race because I wanted to find the inspirational side of skiing.”

 

Figure Skating

Kim Yu-Na is the 19-year-old South Korean who set a world point record in winning the 2010 Winter Olympic ladies single figure skating crown. She creates her perfect triple lutz-triple toe loop by planting her toe into the ice to launch herself into the air. This creates a torque to turn her body, allowing her to spin rapidly in the air. The torque starts in her feet and goes up through her body. The golf swing also begins in the feet and the kinetic energy moves up through the rest of the body. Kim said, “I don’t think during the jump as it happens so fast. It is instinctual. My body is programmed to do it.” Your body will also respond without thinking to the perfect mental practice you have programmed.  

 

Kim’s coach, Brian Orser, says that her great body awareness is very precise. She knows exactly where she is.  It is like winding something up. She defies gravity, appears to be floating, and can linger at the height of the jump with her upper and lower body rotating.

Be aware of your body in your golf swing. Remember when you were in the zone and remember what your body felt like.

 

Olympians were grateful that they were in Vancouver. Not everyone was going to win a medal. Begin your day by feeling grateful, and carry the feeling through the day. Where attention goes, energy flows!

 

Scientists have shown that laughter induced by 30 minutes of humorous TV can help quell inflammation. A good chuckle breaks patterns of negativity and helps you let go.  

At the closing ceremony the producers made up for an opening-ceremony glitch in which one leg of the Olympic cauldron failed to rise from the stadium floor. They humorously used a workman to push up the failed cauldron. Humor builds self-esteem if you can laugh at your mistakes and your humanness.

Other key moments in the closing included a tongue-in-cheek revue of Canadian icons and symbols, featuring singing-and-dancing Mounties, tabletop hockey players, dancing canoes and flying moose and beavers. Canadian actors including William Shatner and Michael J. Fox made fun of national stereotypes.

 

Let humor be the 15th club in your bag. Humor can take the tenseness out of a situation. Perhaps that is one of the reasons so many jokes are told about golf. Smile often on the golf course and you will relax yourself to your personal best round.

 

Entrain Your Heart & Brain for Peak Performances!

 

© Copyright PMI 2010. All Rights Reserved.

 

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