Many sports such as golf, tennis and skating, not only require physical skills, but a strong mental game as well. Most coaches preach the line that sports are 90% mental and only 10% physical. Especially in sports where hundredths of a second or tenths of an inch separate the champions from the mediocre athletes, an extra edge can be extremely crucial. Hence, numerous athletes are turning towards mental imagery to take their game to the next level. Different uses of imagery in sport include: mental practice of specific performance skills, improving confidence and positive thinking, problem solving, controlling arousal and anxiety, performance review and analysis, preparation for performance, and maintaining mental freshness during injury.
After reading through numerous studies……
……visual imagery seems somewhat promising and beneficial. Although it is not as beneficial as physical practice, visual imagery fairs better than no practice at all. Hence, a program with physical practice combined with mental training seems to be the best method. Virtually all of the studies show that mental training improves motor skills. More recently a lot of studies go even further and prove that visual imagery can improve various skills related to sports in actual field contexts. Visual imagery seems to be beneficial to anyone who wants to improve at their sport. Whether you are a recreational athlete or a professional does not matter. The benefits of mental imagery have proved successful at any level. So if you are a professional looking to break into the top, or a club player who simply wishes to defeat his/her friend, I recommend incorporated mental imagery along with physical practice. Not only can mental imagery improve specific motor skills but it also seems to enhance motivation, mental toughness and confidence, all which will help elevate your level of play.
The above paragraphs are taken from a research paper by Annie Plessinger.