DO NOT RESTRICT ATHLETES TO ONLY VISUAL IMAGERY
Hardy, L. (1997). The Coleman Roberts Griffith Address: Three myths about applied consultancy work. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 9, 277-294.
Hardy discussed a third myth in sport psychology, "Performers should use internal visual imagery rather than external visual imagery." This perception of the field of imagery in sports is perhaps too restrictive, for it is believed that all types of imagery have particular uses and that there is no single form that is appropriate for all situations in something as complex as a sport setting. However, Hardy's paper is limited to considering only visual imagery. He compares two perceptions: seeing oneself perform, similar to watching a video on one's performance (external visual imagery), or seeing visual input as it occurs in a performance (e.g., trees rushing by, the terrain to be conquered; internal visual imagery).
A basic tenet proposed by Hardy is "imagery should be beneficial to learning and performance only to the extent that the images generated contain information that would not otherwise be available to the performer" (p. 289).
The role of kinesthetic imagery (i.e., experiencing the feelings and sensations of movement), is accepted as being very important and of consistent effect. A combination of visual and kinesthetic imageries is proposed for some sporting situations (p. 290).
Implication. The purpose of the imagery, the type of task, and the preferences of the athlete have to be considered when using visual imagery. The role of kinesthetic imagery for most performances is critical but the role of imagery for motivation, particularly prior to and during competitions, is also very important. A serious coaching error could occur if restricted types of imagery to be used by athletes is encouraged without considering these factors.
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