Or maybe you've had a fight with someone and you kept running the scene over and over in your mind, getting more angry with each passing moment?
Perhaps you've watched great dog handlers perform, and then went out and had a smooth performance yourself.
Or possibly you've beat yourself up for days after a disappointing performance, reliving a mistake over and over, and feeling like you wanted to crawl under the covers and never come out again.
If you said yes to any of these, you've experienced the power of visualization—the movie reel of the mind's eye that can affect our emotions and influence our actions.
How does this work and how can you use it to your advantage in agility...even in life?
The truth is the mind doesn't differentiate between something vividly imagined and real life.
That's why simulators are so valuable in training pilots and astronauts. They learn how to react to different emergencies in a safe environment. Even though they know it's not 'real', they still learn the skills and develop the reaction time necessary to perform at an extremely high level of competence—even in real life on their first attempt.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could perform well on your first attempt?
The good news is you don't need expensive simulation technology because you already have one of the most advanced simulators on board...your own mind.
That's where visualization comes in.
Why You Need To Visualize
Visualization is the tool used by elite athletes, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, writers...pretty much any type of performer.
Here's the misconception. Most people think of visualization as a skill only top performers need. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“Ordinary people believe only in the possible. Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible.” – Cherie Carter-Scott
Visualization has many more uses than just 'trying to win the big one' or surviving life and death situations.
You can do all these things and more by visualizing:
Why Don't You Visualize?
Most people don't visualize either because they think they don't know how to visualize, they don’t think they are at a competitive level where they need to visualize, or they don't know WHAT to visualize.
The overwhelming odds are you already know how to visualize. As children, we had vast visual abilities (among many other things) that got squashed as we 'grow up'.
When you use your imagination, or dream of where you might go on a vacation, you are using images to some extent, even if they are hazy.
The good news is you can get that ability back—the ability to imagine vividly...to visualize.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.” – Albert Einstein
If you have trouble visualizing, it's not that you can't. More likely, you don't know what to visualize or don't have good control of your images ("Control, Luke, you must learn control...", oops, sorry, wrong speech).
Baby Step 1 - Create Images With Your Senses
One way to make the images powerful is to use all your senses.
Let's use dog agility as an example, but you can apply this formula to anything.
Stand up from wherever you are reading this, close your eyes, and imagine you are about to walk into the ring at big event.
Your body reacts to the images your mind creates. The more sensory they are, the more powerful they are. That’s why you get more angry the more you dwell on a fight with your spouse or a rude customer service person.
But imagine using that skill to create positive outcomes!
Baby Step 2 - Create A Simulator
Although I recommend using visualization in all different circumstances—in practice, competition, even before going to bed, and for life as well as agility—one place visualization is particularly powerful is in your pre-run routine during the walkthrough.
Use visualization to memorize the course more quickly, and run the course in your mind. Don't just focus on your own moves, try to feel where you will be in relation to the obstacles compared to where your dog will be.
Feel the course out in your mind with different handling strategies. Does it feel right? Will it work? For example, where will your dog be relative to you at a particular turn and what will he see? Will you make it there in time for the cue? Run it in your mind.
It’s like getting an opportunity to practice before your run.
Talk about a confidence builder!
Baby Step 3 - Protect Yourself From Negative Images
Have you ever watched a number of poor runs, where everyone is making the same mistake and then you’ve gone out and made the same mistake, even though you knew better? That’s the power of visualization. That was the last image in your mind.
Golfers often find they golf better after watching professional golfers, because the image of the professional’s smooth swing and impeccable rhythm is still in their minds.
As soon as you see a mistake on course by another competitor, immediately fix it in your mind several times, so that’s not your last image. The same is true for walking the course wrong, or watching someone else walk the course wrong, or watching others practice handling strategies different from your own. Those images are messing with your own. Don't let someone else's problems become yours.
“Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
Once you start your pre-run routine, be very protective of the images you allow into your head.
Visualization Is An Essential Tool
Fortunately, visualization is a skill anyone can learn to use. If you aren't using it, you are at a serious disadvantage, no matter where you are in your agility career.
Because when you see it, you believe it... and you know how to make it happen because you've done it before!
Want to use visualization in your pre-run routines? I’ve put together a special audio/ebook bundle...
Please send me the FREE 10-Part "Power Up Your Mental Game" course!
You can unsubscribe at any time.