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“What makes (a player like) Rooney unique is his imagination.When he visualises scoring a goal, he can feel his foot hitting the ball, the smell of the grass under his foot and the sound of the crowd.But it can also help mentally, by encouraging an athlete to prepare strategies for different scenarios, such as start-line nerves, punctures, and penalty placings. Visualisation can galvanise somebody preparing for an important boardroom meeting or a client dinner, too.“There is a huge crossover between the demands of sport and business,” concludes Bull.“I want to make sure I feel as good as possible so I have a good tournament.” It’s not hard to see how these methods from the elite world of sport can be appropriated or adapted for the rest of us.Visualisation can be used to help an amateur athlete prepare for a big game, a marathon, or a bike race by encouraging them to focus on the execution of correct skills and good technique.Murray has even been known to make several visits to a deserted Centre Court in advance of Wimbledon in order to mentally acclimatise to the environment.
Djokovic was taught to visualise his shots to the accompaniment of classical music by his first coach.
The use of imagery primes their muscles to perform correct technique and to execute appropriate actions in competition, but it also conditions their mind to think clearly about how they will react to certain pressures, situations and problems.