Mahoney, M. J. (1977, December). Cognitive skills and athletic performance. A paper presented at the 11th Annual Meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, Atlanta, GA.

A number of factors were suggested as possible modifiers of the influence of imagined rehearsal on performance. They were:

  1. Familiarity with the task.
  2. The time of the trial occurrence. It may be most effective when it is interspersed throughout physical trials involved with skill acquisition.
  3. The vividness and control of imagery. The better these two factors are employed, the better will be the resulting effect.
  4. The athlete's orientation. Successful gymnasts often reported "internal" (phenomenological) imagery as contrasted with "external" (third-person) imagery reported by less-successful individuals. The internal phenomena usually involved the sensations and feelings involved with the imagined activity, that is, a rehearsal of the total intended experience. That contrasts to the external orientation of watching an image of one's self perform as if in a video or movie (some visual content is there but proprioception is absent).

Implication. Imagined rehearsal of physical movements is best accomplished when the individual is familiar with the task, the trial is associated with physical practices, the imagery is controlled and vivid, and a major concentration of the imagery content is on what actually will be experienced (an internal perspective).

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