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Harnessing Visualization for Optimal Performance

Harnessing Visualization for Optimal Performance - Patrik vom Bruck - Ride Your Life - Blog

Imagine yourself on a bike tour, cycling through Italy’s picturesque scenery, fully prepared and at ease. Visualization can be a game-changer in how you approach and enjoy your biking adventures. 

This article, based on a text by mental coach Patrick Vom Bruck, provides insights into using visualization to boost your performance and well-being not only during your bike tours but also in everyday life.

What is visualization 

Have you ever tried to visualize yourself while facing competition or presenting your project to collaborators or potential investors? We often imagine different possible scenarios resulting from the actions we take.

If we are afraid of making a wrong impression or not being up to the task, we feel anxiety and fear of being unable to manage the situation. In this case, we become frightened by the challenge we face, and our thoughts create stress.

This process, which affects most people since childhood, not only causes anxiety and stress but also heavily impacts our preparation for the event and performance. In other words, if we visualize ourselves making a silent scene in front of an audience or losing a critical race, our brain will process sensations identical to those we would experience if that scenario were real. Our brain does not distinguish between what is real and what is not.

The same thing happens in sports. Who knows how many athletes are terrified by the worst scenarios they create in their minds before their competitions?

However, visualization can also be a powerful tool for creating positive outcomes. For instance, if we visualize ourselves giving a confident presentation or winning a critical race, our brain will process these positive scenarios as if they were real. This positive visualization can reduce anxiety and enhance performance.

Take, for example, a scenario where an athlete imagines crossing the finish line first, feeling strong and triumphant. This positive imagery not only boosts confidence but also prepares the brain and body to perform optimally. Similarly, a speaker who visualizes engaging the audience and delivering their message with clarity and passion is more likely to experience reduced stress and increased effectiveness.

By harnessing the power of positive visualization, we can transform our mental state, reduce stress, and significantly improve our chances of success.

Stress is harmful

Stress is not harmless. It stimulates the production of cortisol, also called the stress hormone, which stiffens the muscles and slows down our ability to concentrate and solve problems. The same happens with the stomach, which can tighten out of fear, and sleep, which can become agitated or even absent.

One of the most important postulates of the Law of Attraction, as well as NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), Transurfing, and other techniques used in personal development, is that our thoughts, not the other way around, generate reality. So, if I visualize a negative situation for myself, it is highly likely that it will occur in the future.

The ideal scenario: visualization to achieve your goals

How can we get out of this trap and turn the process to our advantage? First of all, by reversing it. 

Take at least 10 minutes and put yourself in a comfortable position where you can’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. You can help yourself by taking four seconds to inhale and four seconds to exhale, keeping your breath constant for the duration of the exercise. Once relaxed, try to imagine yourself in your ideal scenario. 

Visualize all the possible details: carrying out your business successfully, overcoming the difficulties that arise, the people with you, the emotions you feel, and the final result. At first, you may be bothered by intrusive thoughts that tell you it is not possible, that you will not succeed, but do not stop and continue. 

Like all things in life, visualization also takes time to learn; like all habits, it needs at least 21 days to become second nature.

Training the mind

This exercise applies to all aspects of our lives, from business to relationships and sports. Visualization trains our unconscious mind to attract the desired situation, but above all, it teaches us to be ready for critical challenges.

An experiment conducted by Dr. Biasiotto at the University of Chicago in 1996 demonstrates how vital visualization is for our performance. In it, a group of students used mental exercises to achieve better results in basketball without making real throws. 

Three groups were formed: the first practiced shooting daily for twenty days, and the scores of the first and last day were calculated. A second group had its scores equally calculated on the first and last day, but they did not practice or exercise. The scores of a third group were calculated on the first day. For twenty minutes a day over the following nineteen days, the players practiced only mentally, imagining that they were throwing the ball and correcting their aim according to the mistakes made.

The scores of the first group, who had trained for twenty minutes a day, improved by 24%. The second group, who had not done any training, did not register any improvement, while the third group, who had only exercised mentally, improved by 23%.

This surprising result shows us the incredible scope of visualization, and when this is combined with real practice, the results can be extraordinary.

Why visualization matters

By now, it is clear how visualization can positively influence our performance in daily life, work, sports, and therefore during bike tours as well. This is why, in the Ride Your Life cycling training camps and retreats, you can rely on activities that facilitate this practice, such as yoga and mindfulness meditation. With Ride Your Life tours, you can truly transform every pedal stroke into an opportunity for growth and well-being. 

Image by Jared Rice – Unsplash

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