Item extracted from Rushall, B. S., & Lippman, L. G. (1997). The role of imagery in physical performance. International Journal for Sport Psychology, in press.

The procedures for using mental imagery differ between the purposes of skill learning and performance preparation. Adequate descriptions of essential features and implementation steps have yet to be verified. The popular practice of promoting one form of mental practice for all physical activities and situations is erroneous. Anecdotal and research evidence indicates that a differentiation is warranted.

The cognitive component of skill performance and preparation is complex and multi-purposed. It would seem fruitful to identify the distinctive features of all separate roles so that correct mental actions can be learned, practiced, and implemented. This commentary attempted to establish the case for the discrete nature of imagery use as a procedural component for skill learning and the equally discrete nature of performance preparation imagery as a vehicle contributing to performance enhancement.

The questions raised in this paper need to be extended and answered. The field of imagery use in physical activity pursuits comprises a mix of good experimental findings, anecdotal testimonies, and fads. Essential components need to be delineated. Investigation is warranted.

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