Visualization - Warm up tool for Competition
Was kicking around ideas for a thread and thought I'd do one on visualization for competitions.
I used to have one huge problem in competitions - my first match. I'd come out like I was half-asleep. I'd frequently lose to people I'd normally beat easily and have to fight my way back up throught he repechage. Not a problem in smaller true-double elimination tourneys - often a bit of a bonus since I got more fights. Big problem in larger tournaments though.
I tried all kinds of warm ups with minimal success. Even getting someone to bang me around so I essentially felt like I'd had a match already didn't really seem to work. The funny thing is that once that first match was done, win or lose, I was fine. That match could be a long, drawn out close one or me just grabbing and immediately throwing for ippon. Either way once it was done I was mentally in my zone.
One night my coach brought in a sports psychologist who did a bit of a introductory demo on visualization for relaxation. Afterwards I was talking to him about my problem and he suggested using visualization to warm up. We went through a bit of the process and he suggested I do a few sessions with him but since I was a student at the time with no cash I declined. It's actually quite simple and easy to use.
Once I began using it at competitions it made an absolutely huge difference. I no longer had to pray for an easy opponent first round. I was ready to go my first match, not sleep walking in as before. It's such a simple thing but for me it worked really well.
This is the basics of how to do it (note that you should find a relatively quiet area and lie down there to do it):
Lie down, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Starting with your toes tense and relax the muscles in your body, working your way upwards. While doing this, visualize your breathing, the air blue as it comes in and red as it blows out. Take as long as you need to do it and you should feel relaxed and no longer have to concentrate to keep your breathing slow and even at the end.
You now need to visualize your match. Your visualization should include the imagery of what's going on, the sounds and the way you body feels at the time. You want to keep these as to what your ideal should be for the situation.
The visualization should proceed step by step and include all aspects of your competition. I would usually start mine with being called on deck. I'd visiualize myself warming up in the on-deck area. Little details like removing my sweats, the sensation of my heart beating faster in anticipatio, butterflies in the stomach, etc all should be included in the visualization as grapically as you can.
You then proceed to visualize a match. Again you want to make it as detailed as possbile. Include the bow-in, gripping, ne-waza, everything. I usually visualize my first match as a fairly lengthy one including all aspects. I try to visualize an opponent I know to make it as real as possible.
Once the first match is done I visualize the after-math. The bow-out, the exhiliration of winning, the relief of having the first match over with. I visualize putting my sweats back on, grabbing water and going to talk with my coach (my usual after-match routine).
From there I'll usually visualize one or two more matches. I find I don't do these ones in as much detail. I'll usually use these to focus on things I want to accomplish specifically at this tournament, particular techniques I'm focussing on, etc.
Like I said this method of preparation was very effective in preventing me comig out flat in my first match. It takes about 10-15 minutes and it gets easier the more you do it. I sometimes will do it at night if I'm having trouble falling asleep, using the relaxation part first and then proceeding to a sort of visualization training session. Helps clear my mind if I've got a lot going on that's keeping me up.
I always sleepwalk through the start of a competition. I'll try the visualization thing next time. Thanks.
thank you, ill give it a shot