10 Oct 2013

Head Games: The Use of Mental Rehearsal to Improve Performance

Submitted by Stephen Winters
TitleHead Games: The Use of Mental Rehearsal to Improve Performance
Publication TypeWeb Article
Access Year2013
Access Date10/10/2013
PublisherWright State University
Keywordsbehavior rehearsal, mental rehearsal, Visualization

"In a Nutshell 

        Mental rehearsal of performances is an excellent way to support skill development.  LeaderLetter subscribers have told me that they've found mental rehearsal useful for job interviews, presentations, cheerleading performances, athletic performances, sales calls and teaching.  There are numerous opportunities to use mental rehearsal to master managerial behaviors too.

Is Imagined Practice More Helpful Than Actual Practice? 
        In the photo above, Tasha Butts is executing one of the toughest shots in the sport of basketball, and mentally rehearsing such a performance beforehand can be very helpful.  Butts is a guard on the University of Tennessee's basketball team.  Sunday night, in the last second of Tennessee's post-season tournament game against Baylor, Butts was sent to the free throw line with a chance to win the game.  There was a lot of pressure on her to perform.  If she failed, her team might well have been eliminated from the tournament.  Such pressure makes free throw shooting at the end of a basketball game very difficult.  Butts succeeded and Tennessee defeated Baylor. 

        How should we prepare for difficult performances in athletics, the workplace, or other situations?  Research has found that a combination of "imagined practice" and actual practice often results in better performances than those achieved with preparation that relies solely on actual practice.  In addition to athletics, studies have shown that imagined practice improves performance in diverse contexts that include communication, education and clinical and counseling psychology.1"

Citation KeyctkeyWright State University

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