Here's the breakdown on how often these elite athletes used mental practice.
Once a week or less: about one in three
Twice a week: one in five
Three to six times a week: about one in three
More than seven times a week: one in 10
We also found that those who trained the longest hours reported more mental
training. The extra hours of training, however, could be mental training rather
than physical. And, of course, the more committed athletes are more likely to
train more hours, both physically and mentally, and to seek out ways to enhance
their performances-such as mental practice.
Athletes who had visited a sports medicine specialist were more likely to use mental practice than athletes who had not. I found this most puz- zling. After further thought and investigation, I came up with a potential explanation. A visit to a sports physician suggests an athletic injury, and some injured athletes use mental practice because they can't practice physically. It is also possible that athletes who seek out this kind of specialist for medical treatment are the same ones who seek out special cog- nitive techniques, both representing commitment to state-of-the-art training.
It really does work!!
More reports coming from my colleagues around the world note that imagery and visualization skills are really being used. We knew they worked, but now we have convinced the coaches and athletes. My colleague, Jean Williams, PhD, noted in her outstanding book, Applied Sport Psychology, that 99 percent of the 235 Canadian Olympians who went to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics used imagery. Forty elite gymnasts reported extensive use of imagery skill for preparation, and in 1988 some 86 percent of our US consultants used mental training strategies with our US Olympians going into the Seoul games. We know from Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996), Nagano (1998), Sydney (2000), Salt Lake City (2002), and Athens (2004). I attended all of those great competition venues-that we had more psychologists working with more athletes than ever before. I would say that we are finally catching up to the Eastern bloc countries on the mental training and visualization skill learning curve.
FROM: MENTAL TRAINING for PEAK PERFORMANCE