What is Mental Rehearsal?
We live in an age where sports stars have to be more dynamic than ever to gain an edge over their opponents. Whereas 30 years ago sports science was a rarity, it is now embraced by most of the top teams in the world in all sports and can even be applied an an amateur level. One of the techniques used most commonly is mental rehearsal, so what is it all about?
Mental rehearsal is the act of playing through a scenario in your head before it takes place, it is different from a physical rehearsal as you’re not actually doing the actions but studies have even suggested the muscle memory is helped by doing this. There is little doubting that this visualisation technique helps. An example would be a penalty kick in soccer. Let’s say you need to take a penalty, before stepping up you rehearse in your mind over and over where you are going to put it, helping you by having a clear decision and direction and allowing you to go into the kick with more confidence.
This technique can be used for simple skills, sticking with the soccer analogy, something like passing the ball, or it can be used to visualise game scenarios and situation and what you will do when faced with those challenges. Mental rehearsal should be done before you take to a field, or even in bed at night, in a quiet room the day before a match, or whenever works best for your particular sporting challenge. Putting it into practice can definitely help your performance.