Van Gyn, G. H., Wenger, H. A., & Gaul, C. A. (1990). Imagery as a method of enhancing transfer from training to performance. Journal of Sport and Exercise Science, 12, 366-375.

Ss (N = 40; M & F) were assigned to one of four groups: (a) imagery training (doing a 40 m sprint), (b) power training (sprint cycle ergometry), (c) imagery and power training, and (d) control. After six weeks of training Ss were tested on a Wingate cycle ergometer test for peak power and a 40 m sprint. Thus, the effects of imagining the real test while performing another activity that used the same motor ability were assessed.

In the cycling test, both the power and power+imagery groups improved significantly. Imagery alone did not. However, on the 40 m sprint test, only the imagery (non-significant) and power+imagery groups (significant) improved.

Implication. Imagery of the real competitive event form, while performing activities of different form, may be a method of facilitating transfer to the competitive event. It may be a method of getting a form of "cross-training" effect. However, such an hypothesis is very suspect because in this study the Ss were untrained in sprinting and so the "organizational" benefits that come from controlling the mind while exercising (the power+imagery condition) may have facilitated a better attempt to use existing physical resources in the sprint activity. It is possible that the observed performance improvement resulted from something other than physical transfer.

However, this finding does warrant further investigation in better settings.

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