A MODEL FOR PERFORMANCE-ENHANCEMENT IMAGERY
Rushall, B. S. (1991). Imagery training in sports. Spring Valley, CA: Sports Science Associates and Belconnen, ACT, Australia: Australian Coaching Council.
The Structure of a Performance-enhancement Imagery Model
The most effective performance imagery will consist of the following features.
In order for an athlete to benefit from the use performance enhancement imagery, the features listed above need to be included. Each successful imagery trial should be followed by covert positive reinforcement. The combination of trials and reinforcement is critical for this mental skill to work.
The implementation of performance enhancement imagery is characterized by the following steps. It is assumed that imagery skills have been learned.
As with all imagery, control and vividness are essential for the procedure to be effective. The inclusion of performance enhancement imagery as part of the pre-competition preparation strategy means that it should be performed in conjunction with other activities, particularly physical work. The correct execution of this form of imagery is a learned skill and needs practice and guidance before it can be effectively employed.
Performance enhancement imagery should be rehearsed on a daily basis prior to the day of a competition for periods of time that are determined by the athlete. The day before or on the day of the competition the volume of rehearsal should increase markedly to at least five times that of the preceding days. This form of imagery serves as a procedure to improve an individual's focus of attention on an impending performance as the time for competing nears. It also contributes to an increase in performance readiness and positive thinking.
The development of performance enhancement imagery is assisted by using structured preparatory materials. A suggested preparation sheet is provided and described in Imagery training in sports.
The sheet is divided into sections which are meant to cue the athlete to consider all the features that are important for performance enhancement imagery. The entries should be such that the athlete has sufficient detail to totally focus his/her attention during a rehearsal trial.
Each of the entries is accompanied by an "Associated Physical Activities" section. What is required to complete that unit is for the athlete to record whether he/she will do the rehearsal while being physically active. For example, a rower getting ready for a race may rehearse while running as part of a warm-up. If that individual were focusing on the arm movement of the sweep-oar action, then the running arm action would be altered to exhibit some of the rowing arm action. The resulting performance may appear odd to an observer, but that compromising feature is an index of the focus, vividness, and control of the imagery. Thus, the athlete needs to plan whether the imagery is or is not associated with some physical activities and what are the movements that result from the imagery practice.
The final part of the sheet requires some positive consequences to be defined and incorporated into the performance imagery package. This is done in much the same manner as was described for learning imagery and CPR.
It should be noted that one page is allocated to each segment of a total performance. In events where a number of segments are developed, the performance enhancement imagery plans will comprise a number of pages to accommodate the multiple segment structure. This may seem like a lot of work for an athlete but it is required to obtain the maximum amount of performance enhancement possible.