Visualising the future

I was playing golf with a friend the other day when we reached the 10th hole. Before teeing off he commented that he didn’t like the 10th on this course as he always played it badly. Lo and behold he duly recorded his worst score of the day and his expectations were fulfilled! If we expect to struggle with something this is what tends to happen.

The reverse is equally true though, if we “pysche” ourselves up and envisage ourselves  succeeding at something this also can become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Ian Rush was recently asked how he coped on those rare occasions when he went on a barren run without scoring. He went on to describe a variation on a visualisation technique often used in coaching situations.

The first thing he did was get a ball and take 20 shots at an empty net on the training field. The next day he would get the youth team keeper and take 20 shots against him. The next day he would come back to the training pitch and put 20 shots past the reserve team keeper.

When he felt confident at being able to put the ball in the net he would take 20 shots against the first team keeper which then put him in the right frame of mind for the real thing on Saturday.

Rush scores against Everton (again)
Rush scores against Everton (again)

Result? He scored 346 goals for Liverpool, a record he is confident won’t be beaten in his lifetime.

Visualisation is a very powerful technique and is used to imprint on the brain how to achieve a specific goal or target and how it will feel when the target is reached. When you map out in your mind the steps you need to take to take, the achievement of a goal becomes far more realistic.

This technique is widely used by sports people, and Fernando Torres gave us another example of it in a recent interview:

Torres is a perfectionist. He even takes time before every match to visualise what could play out before him, in what order. When you see him just before kick off crouching down in the centre circle, that is also part of the routine that makes him the best in the business.

Torres visualising how he is going to score
Torres visualising how he is going to score

“I always do it before the games. I like to see the other players with the keeper. I try to see the goal and try to think where the ball is going. I am trying to think about the movement,” he explained with an almost embarrassed grin.

That is not the only thing Torres tries to visualise. He pictures himself running around Anfield with the Premier League trophy, parading for fans who have waited so long for a glimpse of it.

Let’s hope his latter vision becomes reality sooner rather than later!! 🙂

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