We visualize more than we know. Visualization for softball can be used for skill development, relaxation, focusing, concentrating, regaining or maintaining composure. There are five types of effective visualization. Experiment with all of them and use them in your different situations.
Types of Visualization for Softball
Seeing is like imagining. It is not easy for everyone to see this way or to imagine this way. A good way to practice is to take an object, look at it then close your eyes and try to see it in your mind with your eyes closed. Use an object with bright colours like a bright coloured bat, and it will be easier. This skill is great for learning and rehearsing technical and tactical skills. It is also useful for imagining being in the big game by using your mental training skills to concentrate and focus through distractions.
The sound of the bat hitting the ball, is an amazing sound when it is done well. As with seeing an object, you can rehearse using sound as well. Play a noise on your iPod or listen to something on your TV and then hit the mute button while trying to hear it as it just sounded. Practice hearing specific things during the day like birds and see if you can repeat the sound in your mind. When preparing for an important game, use a recording of spectators to help you to prepare for the noises that you will hear during competition.
Actually feeling the skill takes practice and awareness of your body. A good way to practice this skill is to close your eyes and move your body slowly then speed it up. Use your sports equipment such as your bat or a ball and feel the weight of the object and how it feels to move it around. Make sure that there is no one in the immediate vicinity for safety purposes. It is important to have this feeling when warming up for throwing. If you warm up too quickly you will get a sore shoulder. Learn how your shoulder muscles feel and when it feels strong.
This one should be somewhat easy. What is your favourite food? We might not use this skill in our development, but it may be useful if you are going to be competing in an environment that has a specific smell to it like being close to the sea or fresh cut grass. Being familiar with these smells, will give you familiarity before arriving at the location.
This skill is also not one that you will likely be using in your preparations although the taste of dirt after a head first slide is something that stays for a minute. However it is a way to become aware of your senses, which is never a bad thing.
Visualization for Youth
Youth use unstructured imagination all the time. Mention an ice cream cone, their favourite snack or going to their favourite amusement park and watch their eyes light up. Working with children gently, and showing them how they are actually using visualization will help them to incorporate the skills later in softball. They will respond more readily to the word “imagine” better than the word “visualize” because they use the word imagine often when interacting with each other. Allow them to be creative and refrain from having limitations on their imagination.
Visualization for Adolescents
Using the word imagine instead of visualize is a good start if you are not familiar with the actual term visualization. Every teenager imagines something I bet. Even if it is being at the beach with their friends or going to a movie or other activities. Allow them to experiment with the different types of visualization to find the one that works best for them and that they can use to make their mental training skills stronger.
Visualization for Adults
We have a whole life time of imagination to draw on. When you think back on an event, many times you will actually be able to see the event and sometimes even remember the smells and feelings surrounding it. Experiment with conscious and directed visualization, and try it during competition and training sessions if you have not used it before.
Practice Makes You Better
If you have difficulty visualizing, use every opportunity to practice. Even if you are watching TV, close your eyes and try to see the picture you were just looking at. Use your imagination to create things. Take the time to use the exercises in this book to improve your abilities to visualize or imagine. If you are having a bad game or practice, try to use visualization to bring yourself to a better and more productive place. Relaxation will be a big help with visualization because it will calm your mind so that you can focus on what you are trying to see, hear, smell, feel or taste.
Use this skill to help your competition. Try to be specific in your visualizations. Try to see, feel and hear the activity from beginning to end. It will improve your skills without even touching the field. The best time to visualize is before going to sleep and/or when you first get up because your mind is the most quiet. Give it a try.