Will Practicing A Skill In Your Head Make You Better At It?
J Thoendell stashed this in Sports
Visualization has advantages over the real thing: You can do it anywhere, even when injured. It’s safe—a major plus for high-stakes performers such as gymnasts and surgeons. And you can practice for longer periods of time because you’re not constrained by physical fatigue. That’s not to say it’s easy: “We’ve had Olympic-level athletes sitting in our lab, visualizing for two hours,” says Tadhg MacIntyre, a sports psychologist at the University of Limerick in Ireland. “When we’re done, they’re absolutely exhausted.”
It doesn’t work for everyone, though. “If you’re a novice, the impact can be negative,” warns MacIntyre. “If you’re trying to visualize a free throw, and you don’t even know the proper handgrip and movement, then you’re probably going to mentally rehearse the wrong skill, and your skill is going to be impaired.”