Building a positive image is key to an athlete’s success. It will help their physical and mental performance on and off the field. Athletes portray themselves in a positive light to spur them on and a lot can be learned from this to influence our own lives.
English Rugby sports star Jonny Wilkinson was known in the United Kingdom for his dedication to perfectionism. In an interview with British newspaper The Telegraph, he described his attitude to behaving like he was on camera 24 hours and at the end of the day he had to sign off on the whole day. Wilkinson created an aura of striving for the best through how he conducted himself on and off the field. The result of this hard work on his image: he is regarded as one of the best rugby players to have ever played.
A strong positive image can drive an individual or team on to success. Often it is about realizing what is important. The North Texas Daily reported on how North Texas athletic director Rick Villarreal would take his football players to a school for mentally disabled teenagers to play catch with the students. The students were big fans of the players and would know the player’s names and numbers. Villarreal would tell his team how the teens struggled to know life-saving signs like ‘enter and exit’ or ‘stop and go’ but that they knew who the players were, what their number was and how many catches they had made. He would tell his team that this was how much they meant to people. The importance of how you conduct yourself is how you want to be viewed and respected.
Athletes need mental skills in order for them to perform at their optimum level. One way that athletes and sports stars use their mind is mental imagery. This involves the athlete imagining themselves performing the move or activity they want to achieve in their mind using all the senses: sight, sound, feel, and smell. Brain Mac sites Golfer Jack Nicklaus as using mental imagery for every shot. Nicklaus described his process like a movie where he would imagine each part of the shot as a separate scene. He stated that “he never hit a shot even in practice without having a sharp in-focus picture of it in my head.”
It requires a lot of concentration to use mental imagery. In the modern world, there are many distractions, especially if the athletes are performing in front of a large crowd. Pocket Fruity in their guide to improving concentration and focus state that it is best to avoid practicing or rehearsing tasks in a distracted setting. They believe that information is greatly debilitated when our brains are bombarded with too much input information. Jack Nicklaus practices his mental imagery on the practice course so that when he has to perform in front of a large crowd he is ready and prepared.
Positive imagery can be used in any situation. We used athletes as examples because they are constantly in the spotlight and their hard work is out there to be seen and admired. Anyone can use this at work or at home for self-improvement and success.
Thank you William Goodwin, for the guest blog post!
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