Mind, Body and Movies
The reason I have put this together is because I love visualisation stuff but sometimes my fitness or body awareness is not quite in line with what I can do inside my head!
I know the point of visualisation is to get yourself to a position where you become better than you are now, but if your imagination is so far removed from your body then sometimes we can be afraid to go for it for fear of it being unattainable.
This past weekend, watching the SWS boys at the MEC, I have been reminded about what inspiration you can get from your peers and skaters from afar, and how this can aid in building and ‘blooming’ your internal mind movies, through combining footage watching with visualisation and practice.
The following is something that I have adapted from an article called Sports Visualization in Tennis by John Beeby (March 17, 2013), and goes through steps to cement the connection between your body and your mind.
He goes through a process of deciding a skill or a strategy that you want to improve on and then working through a bunch of steps to set it into your head. These are the basic steps, with some changed / added in by me to make it relevant to derby:
1. Identify a skater who nails that skill or strategy (and, if possible, who has a similar body type or skating style to you).
2. Watch footage of that skater performing said skill or strategy.
3. Stand up and move in a way that activates the muscles you will need to perform said skill or strategy (go through the movements off skates).
4. Watch footage of that skater performing said skill or strategy again.
5. Play your mind movie: Visualize and rehearse perfect execution.
6. Stand up and go through the movements off skates again, tweaking based on your observations from the second footage viewing and visualisation.
7. Re-play your mind movie: Visualize and rehearse perfect execution.
8. Repeat steps 4-7 as necessary within a ‘session’ and repeat at least 1 run through 1-2 times a week to compliment your general ‘mind movie’ visualisation.
I would say that it would be best to do this on days when you have training. Do as much of the footage / visualisation / off skate bit as you can prior to the session, then try to perform the skill in the warm up or during the session. Also, try to get a buddy that you can practice with / on.
Before you go and practice this extensively, let’s take an example to help work through the steps. Let’s pretend that you are trying to master giving awesome offence in lane 1.
1. Watch your chosen skater doing this a few times.
2. Think about the way in which you would do this. Would you lead with your shoulder? Go up and push on your toes stops? Drop through your knees and pop up into the opponent’s side? Go through the physical movements thinking about how it feels to put yourself in those positions. Get it as close as you can to the actual movements.
3. Watch your chosen skater again.
4. Stand or sit. Close your eyes and run an internal movie of yourself performing the offence perfectly. Make sure you are in your body, seeing yourself performing the offensive movements through your own eyes for the majority of the time you are visualizing (as opposed to seeing yourself as an observer, like you would when watching a video of yourself). Run this internal, mental rehearsal of the offense for 5 minutes.
5. Open your eyes and physically go through the motions again. Notice whatever comes to your attention. You may realise that you were mentally rehearsing a part of the movement slightly incorrectly. Maybe you realise you need to drop lower in order to pop up with more force for example.
6. Watch your chosen skater again.
7. Using the extra information you have just collected, close your eyes and begin rehearsing the offense again, even more perfectly than last time for at least 5 minutes, through your own eyes, in your own body. Notice and become absorbed by the sensory information, the quality of the colours, the accompanying sounds, smells, tastes and other sensations. Go as fast or slow as you want to do it perfectly. If your mind wonders allow it to gently come back to movie.
8. Get up and go through the movements again.
Enjoy practicing and allowing your body to settle into the movement. Repeat steps 6-8 until you’re satisfied.
There really is nothing to be done but practice from here.
Apply the above to the skill you want to learn or improve. Do it obsessively until you work out its limitations, if any, work it until it breaks! You may find it difficult to concentrate on one thing for stretches of 5 minutes or more so you can start with one minute and build up.
Remember, sports visualization is based on a mental muscle. You need to train it and strengthen it and if you do, you will get outstanding results!
Jolly-Pop, 1 September 2014
(Or in most cases in the UK - ‘the unwitting woman’)