Visualisation is a mental training which is sport specific. An orienteer must picture events related to orienteering in his or her mind to reap the great benefits of this skill. The two aspects of our sport, running and navigating, must be mentally rehearsed if one expects to achieve the excellence of which one's body is capable.
Running: Athletes should train in terrain similar to the terrain they wish to visualize so they "run in the terrain" in their mind. While "mentally running" in the terrain, you should be aware of what obstacles you will encounter and how to react to each one.
Navigating/Orienteering Systems: An orienteering system is a sequence of actions taken by an athlete to accomplish a task. Control taking, relocation, start, focus plans, race plans are examples of orienteering systems. When rehearsing orienteering systems, athletes should rehearse the entire system procedure from start to finish. This should preferably be done in real time and athletes should actually see the map, compass, terrain and controls they are rehearsing with in their minds.
For more information on Visualisation and mental imagery, check out the following books:
What is visualisation?
Visualisation is the act of creating or recreating an experience in the mind. Effective visualisation involves not only your visual senses, but your auditory, tactile and olfactory senses as well. Athletes of all levels of abilities use visualisation in order to help them with the various aspects of their physical endeavours.
Uses of visualisation Some of the many uses of visualisation include:
How to use visualisation effectively
In order to use visualisation skills effectively, follow these steps:
Types of visualisation
Two types of visualisation exist, internal and external. Internal visualisation involves viewing your actions from your own vantage point (i.e.. as you would see through your own eyes). External visualisation is viewing yourself as if from an external viewer, as you might see an athlete competing on television.
When to use visualisation
Visualisation is an extremely effective tool which can be used frequently in oneís life whether it be sport related or not. Although it is good to practice visualisation often, it is especially important to use it in the following situations:
Before and after training
Visualisation before physical or technical training helps the athlete focus and get more out of the training. Visualisation after physical or technical training helps the athlete analyze the training session and retain what they have learned.
Before and after competition
Mental training before a competition helps the athlete handle special requirements. After the competition, mental training is used to rehearse the race and learn from mistakes or good technique.
When recovering from an injury
Athletes who train mentally while injured are able to retain and even improve technique
If you find you are having trouble visualising yourself performing skills, try watching a videotape of yourself in competition.
Editor's note: A recent article in New Scientist described an experiment where people imagined themselves doing exercises: lifting weights and the like. They found that the ones who imagined themselves exercising developed stronger muscles than a control group who didn't imagine themselves exercising ... but that doesn't mean that just thinking about going for a training run is enough!