Mental imagery and visualization in sport climbing training

Article (PDF Available) · June 2011with 1,056 Reads
Abstract
The aim of this paper was to explain the use of mental imagery and visualization in sport climbing training. Sport climbers use two types of visualization: disassociated and associated. Visualization can be used in the following climbing activities: preprogramming a redpoint ascent, preparing for an on-sight ascent, preparing for competition and climbing injured or tired. Studies clearly show that utilizing the mind/body connection through visualization can significantly improve the climber's skills. It can also help them to become more focused, and even overcome or prevent training burnout.
Introduction
Over the years climbing has been considered
most popular and most attractive sport of leisure
time with the highest increase of membership worl-
dwide (Creasey, Shepherd, Banks, Gresham, &
Wood, 1999). As the popularity of climbing has
grown, so has the interest in researching the psy-
chological aspects of climbers. However, it is only
recently that research has examined the use of ima-
gery and visualization in climbing (Barton, 1996;
Hardy & Callow, 1999; Jones, Mace, Bray, MacRae
& Stockbridge, 2002).
All climbing disciplines demand strength, endu-
rance and skills acquired during long systematic
training. Physical preparation for sports climbing
implies increased volume and specificity of the tra-
inings as forwarding towards the elite athletes
sports form. Since majority of sports climbers do
not follow any expert plan of training (Twight &
Martin, 1999) but utilize their ‘feelings’ it is assu-
med that more advanced climbing formula could be
obtained by the administration of systematic and
documented sports climbing’s principles, these
being frequencies, intensity, duration and types of
trainings (Wilmore & Costill, 1999) which are to be
selected considering specific motor abilities of each
single climber. But, there is one very specific type
of training that is often overlooked or underrated.
This is mental training, or visualization. Many top
athletes use this type of training. There have been
studies done on the effects of visualization in sports
by some of the top universities in the world.
The aim of this paper is to explain the use of
mental imagery and visualization in sport climbing
training.
Mental skills training techniques
Most mental skills training techniques can be
grouped into two basic categories, cognitive and
somatic methods. Cognitive methods include men-
tal rehearsal, mental imagery and visualization,
visuo-motor behavior rehearsal, and cognitive-
behavior therapy. Somatic methods include
biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation and
meditation. Although cognitive and somatic meth-
ods develop the psychological apparatus of the
individual from different perspectives there is
much overlap because of the nature of psycho-
somatic function. Therefore, elements of each tend
to permeate elements of all, but an explanation of a
variety of approaches is useful to characterize the
different aspects of human nature that contempo-
rary psychology has undertaken to enhance the
mental development of the athlete (Behncke,
APES 39(2011) 1:35-38 Stanković,D., et. al.: MENTAL IMAGERYAND VISUALIZATION...
35
MENTAL IMAGERYAND VISUALIZATION IN SPORT
CLIMBING TRAINING
UDC: 796.52.015.59
(Review)
Daniel Stanković, Aleksandar Raković, Aleksandar Joksimović,
Emilija Petkovićand Dina Joksimović
University of Niš, Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, Niš, Serbia
Abstract:
The aim of this paper was to explain the use of mental imagery and visualization
in sport climbing training. Sport climbers use two types of visualization: disassoci-
ated and associated. Visualization can be used in the following climbing activities:
preprogramming a redpoint ascent, preparing for an on-sight ascent, preparing for
competition and climbing injured or tired. Studies clearly show that utilizing the
mind/body connection through visualization can significantly improve the climber's
skills. It can also help them to become more focused, and even overcome or prevent
training burnout.
Key words: training, competitions, sports, cognitive methods,
somatic methods
2004).
The brain regions responsible for motor execu-
tion appear to be also responsible for imagery
processes under conscious thought without the
intended movement being evoked (Decety, 1996;
Jeannerod, 1995). That is, those neural operations
involved in executing motor coordination also play
a role in mentally representing those actions in con-
scious thought, through imagery, without generat-
ing the actual movement. However, imagining the
event happening is not enough to elicit the correct
imagery process, and like motor skills, if the men-
tal imagery technique is performed inadequately,
without sufficient attention on appropriate execu-
tion, subsequent gains in motor performance will
be substandard.
There are many requirements in achieving the
desired effect of mental imagery, but the first is the
approach to teaching and learning the specific tech-
niques. The visuo-spatial and temporal components
form the “procedural” knowledge required for
effective mental imagery, while conceptual (ideas
of movement) and symbolical (language represen-
tations) elements form the “declarative” knowledge
of mental imagery (Annett, 1995, 1996). These two
forms of knowledge are critical if the individual is
to learn the techniques needed to perform mental
imagery properly. This is because imagining the
skill, and actually performing the skill, needs to be
as closely executed as possible for effective trans-
fer and reinforcement to neural structures (Currie &
Ravenscroft, 1997). Thus, mental imagery compe-
tency requires a degree of attention and psycholog-
ical effort to elicit the desired effect.
Once declarative knowledge has been absorbed
and understood and conscious attention to detail
during mental imagery forms a reinforcing feed-
back loop that enhances neural structures, then pro-
cedural knowledge can begin. There are many
guidelines to enhance the imagery process, and
most, if not all, fit within the spectrum of tech-
niques in mental imagery training (Martens, 1987;
Ievleva & Orlick, 1991; Rushall, 1992).
These aspects of the mental imagery process
need to be constantly practiced in order to elicit
results. Even though individual differences exist in
mental imagery ability, generally, better imagery
control correlates to better performance in the
motor skill (Annett, 1995). Another approach is to
combine the techniques of mental imagery with
physical practice of the intended skill labeled
visuo-motor behavior rehearsal.
Visuo-motor behavior rehearsal is an extension
of mental imagery, in that, it combines the psycho-
logical aspect of generating the mental image with
feedback from the performance of the physical skill
(Lane, 1980). This method has been used success-
fully, especially with closed motor skills, in a num-
ber of sports including Karate (Weinberg,
Seabourne, & Jackson, 1981), basketball (Gray &
Fernandez, 1989; Onestak, 1997), racquet ball
(Gray, 1990), tennis (Noel, 1980), and cross-coun-
try running, golf, track and field, gymnastics, and
diving (Lohr & Scogin, 1998). Visuo-motor behav-
ior rehearsal involves three phases, first, an initial
relaxation phase to retrieve a psychological state
conducive for mental imagery, second, visualizing
performance through various imagery techniques,
and finally, performing the actual skill under realis-
tic conditions.
By repeating this process with the intended skill
during training it is hoped that real-time feedback
ensues between mentally coordinating the visuali-
zation and imagery component with actual per-
formance, thereby, minor changes in either the
skill, and/or the imagery process, can be main-
tained in parallel. The rationale behind visuo-motor
behavior rehearsal is keeping mental imagery and
skill performance closely associated in training,
which should correspond to an increase in perform-
ance because the individual can fine-tune both
processes simultaneously. (Behncke, 2004)
Imagery and visualization
in sports climbing
Fewer studies have examined how imagery use
can affect climbing performance. Barton (1996)
examined the use of an imagery script by beginner
climbers. One group of volunteer college students
who had never climbed before received ten minutes
of imagery training per day, over a period of ten
days, in addition to the regular physical practice of
climbing skills. The control group, who were also
beginner climbers, was limited to physical practice
of climbing skills over the same time period. It was
found that the beginner climbers who received the
ten-day imagery program in addition to regular
physical practice did not perform any better than
the control group. Jones and colleagues (2002) con-
ducted a similar study in which novice climbers’
levels of perceived stress, self-efficacy and climb-
ing performance were assessed. Climbers who were
randomly assigned to the motivational imagery
intervention group reported significantly lower lev-
els of perceived stress and higher levels of self-effi-
cacy in their ability to execute the climb than the
control group. No differences were found between
the groups in overall climbing performance.
Hardy and Callow (1999) examined the kines-
thetic and visual imagery used by expert climbers
from both an internal and an external perspective.
APES 39(2011) 1:35-38 Stanković,D., et. al.: MENTAL IMAGERYAND VISUALIZATION...
36
The climbers were divided into four groups. Each
group completed a series of bouldering problems
using the combinations of internal or external visu-
al imagery with or without the use of kinesthetic
imagery. It was found that the use of external visu-
al imagery combined with kinesthetic imagery was
most effective for climbers. This supported earlier
research that external imagery can be highly bene-
ficial for tasks such as climbing, where form is
important (White & Hardy, 1998).
According to Horst (2003) sport climbers use
two types of visualization: disassociated and asso-
ciated. Disassociated visualization provides an “on-
TV” perspective, where climber sees himself
climbing from an observers point of view. This
mode of visualization is best for reviewing some
past poor performance that he hopes to improve
upon. As a detached observer, he can replay the
movie and objectively view the mistakes or falls
without reliving the possibly unhappy emotions of
the situation.
Associated visualization provides a “through-
your-own-eyes” perspective and thus triggers small
neurological reactions as if the climber were doing
the climb, as well as the feel and emotion of the
movie he is playing. This makes associated visual-
ization ideal for preprogramming some future
ascent. Repeated playing of a highly detailed, posi-
tive mental movie helps trick the subconscious
mind into thinking he has done the climb before
(Horst, 2003).
There’s also a negative visualization. For
instance, if climber visualizes himself failing on a
route or in a competition, he not only preprogram
this possible outcome but also destroy his self-con-
fidence in the process. To avoid this, it’s vital that
climber visualizes only positive events and ideal
outcomes when he projects into the future in the
associated state.
Visualization training can be used in the following
climbing activities:
- preprogramming a redpoint ascent,
- preparing for an on-sight ascent,
- preparing for competition and
- climbing injured or tired.
Conclusion
Studies clearly show that utilizing the
mind/body connection through visualization can
significantly improve the climbers skills. It can
also help them to become more focused, and even
overcome or prevent training burnout. Like any
other training, visualization must be practiced often
in order for it to be truly effective. Afew minutes
each day is enough. Visualization can be very effec-
tive, but it doesn’t take the place on physical sports
specific training. It is a tool to help the athlete to be
the best he can be. It takes patience and practice.
References
Annett, J. (1995). Motor imagery: perception of
action? Neuropsychologia, 33 (11), 1395-
1417.
Annett, J. (1996). On knowing how to do things:
a theory of motor imagery. Cognitive Brain
Research,( 3), 65-69.
Behncke, L. (2004). Mental Skills Training For
Sports: ABrief Review. Athletic Insight – the
online Journal of Sport Psychology, 6 (1), 1-
19.
Barton, K. (1996). The effect of mental imagery
on sport climbing performance of college stu-
dents. (University of Oregon Microfilms).
Creasey, M., Shepherd, N., Banks, N., Gresham,
N., & Wood, R. (1999). The Complete Rock
Climber. London: Lorenz Books.
Currie, G., & Ravenscroft, I. (1997). Mental sim-
ulation and motor imagery. Philosophy of
Science, 64, 161-180.
Decety, J. (1996). The neurophysiological basis
of motor imagery. Behavioral Brain Research,
77, 45-52.
Gray, S. W., & Fernandez, S. J. (1989). Effects of
visuo-motor behavior rehearsal with video-
taped modeling on basketball shooting per-
formance. Psychology: AJournal of Human
Behavior, 26, 41-47.
Gray, S. W. (1990). Effect of visuo-motor
rehearsal with videotaped modeling on racquet
ball performance of beginning players.
Perceptual and Motor Skills, 70, 379-385.
Hardy, L., & Callow, N. (1999). Efficacy of
external and internal visual imagery perspec-
tives for the enhancement of performance on
tasks in which form is important. Journal of
Sport & Exercise Psychology, 21, 95-112.
Horst, E. J. (2003). Training for Climbing: The
Definitive Guide for Improving Your Climbing
Performance. Guilford: Falcon Press.
Ievleva, L., & Orlick, T. (1991). Mental links to
enhanced healing: an exploratory study. The
Sport Psychologist, 5, 25-40.
Jeannerod, M. (1995). Mental imagery in the
motor context. Neuropsychologia, 33(11),
1419-1432.
Jones, M. V., Mace, R. D., Bray, S. R., MacRae,
A. W., & Stockbridge, C. (2002). The impact
of motivational imagery on the emotional state
of self-efficacy levels of novice climbers.
Journal of Sport Behavior, 25(1), 57-73.
APES 39(2011) 1:35-38 Stanković,D., et. al.: MENTAL IMAGERYAND VISUALIZATION...
37
Lane, J. F. (1980). Improving athletic perform-
ance through visuo-motor behaviour rehearsal.
In R. M. Suinn (Ed.), Psychology in sport:
methods and applications. Minneapolis:
Burgess.
Lohr, B. A., & Scogin, F. (1998). Effects of self-
administered visuo-motor behavioural rehears-
al on sport performance of collegiate athletes.
Journal of Sport Behaviour, 21(2), 206-218.
Martens, R. (1987). Coaches guide to sport psy-
chology. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics.
Noel, R. C. (1980). The effect of visuo-motor
behaviour rehearsal on tennis performance.
Journal of Sport Psychology, 2, 221-226.
Onestak, D. M. (1997). The effect of visuo-motor
behaviour rehearsal (VMBR) and videotaped
modeling (VM) on the free-throw performance
of intercollegiate athletes. Journal of Sport
Behaviour, 20(2), 185-198.
Rushall, B. S. (1992). Mental skills training for
sports: a manual for athletes, coaches, and
sport psychologists. Australian: Sport Science
Associates.
Twight, M., & Martin, J. (1999). Extreme
Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast and High.
Seattle: The Mountaineers.
Weinberg, R. S., Seabourne, T. G., & Jackson, A.
(1981). Effects of visuo-motor behaviour
rehearsal, relaxation, and imagery on karate
performance. Journal of Sport Psychology,
(3),228-238.
White, A., & Hardy, C. (1998). An in-depth
analysis of the uses of imagery by high-level
slalom canoeists and artistic gymnasts. The
Sport Psychologist, 12, 387-403.
Wilmore, J., & Costill, D. (1999). Physiology of
Sport and Exercise. Champaign, IL: Human
Kinetics.
APES 39(2011) 1:35-38 Stanković,D., et. al.: MENTAL IMAGERYAND VISUALIZATION...
38
MENTALNATA IMAGINACIJA I VIZUALIZACIJA VO
TRENINGOT NA SPORTSKOTO KA^UVAWE
UDK: 796.52.015.59
( Pregleden trud)
Daniel Stankovi}, Aleksandar Rakovi}, Aleksandar Joksimovi},
Emilija Petkovi} i Dina Joksimovi}
Univerzitet vo Ni{, Fakultet za sport i fizi~ko vospituvawe,
Ni{, Srbija
Apstrakt:
Celta na ovoj trud e da se objasni koristeweto na mentalnata
imaginacija i vizuelizacija vo treningot na sportskoto ka~uvawe.
Vo sportskoto ka~uvawe se koristat dva vida na vizuelizacija:
nepovrzana i povrzana. Vizuelizacijata mo`e da se koristi vo sled-
nive aktivnosti za ka~uvawe: programirawe na ka~uvaweto na red-
point, podgotvuvawe on sight ka~uvawe, podgotovki za natprevari i
ka~uvawe vo tekot na traeweto na telesnite povredi i zamorot.
Dosega{nite studii jasno uka`uvaat deka koristeweto na
povrzanosta na umot so teloto niz vizualizacijata, mo`e vo zna~ajna
mera da ja unapredi ve{tinata na ka~uvaweto. Isto taka, toa mo`e
da pomogne za pogolema fokusiranost, a duri i da spre~i i da pomogne
vo sovladuvaweto na „pregorenosta” so treningot.
Klu~ni zborovi: trening, natprevari, sportovi, kognitivni metodi,
somatski metodi
  • Article
    Motor imagery typically involves an experience as of moving a body part. Recent studies reveal close parallels between the constraints on motor imagery and those on actual motor performance. How are these parallels to be explained? We advance a simulative theory of motor imagery, modeled on the idea that we predict and explain the decisions of others by simulating their decision-making processes. By proposing that motor imagery is essentially off-line motor action, we explain the tendency of motor imagery to mimic motor performance. We close by arguing that a simulative theory of motor imagery gives (modest) support to and illumination of the simulative theory of decision-prediction.
  • Article
    Mental skills training for sport is reviewed in relation to general cognitive-somatic techniques. These techniques include mental rehearsal, mental imagery and visualization, visuo-motor behavior rehearsal, cognitive-behavior therapy, biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation and meditation. It is concluded that the initial and continued ability to self-monitor, though enhanced by mental skills training, is fundamentally important for any implementation of cognitive-somatic therapy.
  • Article
    Employed a qualitative methodology to examine the ways in which imagery is used by 3 high-level slalom canoeists and 3 artistic gymnasts. All Ss were 15–17 yrs old. Ss were interviewed about their imagery use and experiences in competition, training, and other environments. Athletes' responses were analyzed using inductive and deductive procedures. A total of 43 raw data themes formed 10 1st order and 3 2nd order dimensions, characterizing the athletes' uses of imagery. Ss reported using imagery in a variety of different environments for cognitive and motivational purposes. Data showed several differences between the canoeists' and gymnasts' uses of imagery, reflecting the differing task demands of each sport. The experience of imagery was unique to each individual, and athletes were able to emphasize certain aspects or manipulate the content of their images for specific cognitive or motivational functions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Article
    Attempted to determine whether imagery combined with relaxation is more effective in facilitating karate performance than either imagery or relaxation alone. Each of 32 male Ss was randomly assigned to 1 of 4 conditions: visuo-motor behavior rehearsal (VMBR), relaxation, imagery, or attention-placebo (control) in a 1-way design. During the 1st day of the karate class (which met 2 times/week), each group was individually provided with an explanation of how to practice their assigned strategy at home. Trait anxiety tests were administered at the beginning and end of the 6-wk test period. Performance tests were administered at the end of the test period along with precompetitive state anxiety. All Ss displayed a reduction in trait anxiety over the course of the testing period. The VMBR and relaxation groups exhibited lower levels of state anxiety than the imagery and attention-control groups. Performance was broken down into 3 subareas that consisted of skill, combinations, and sparring (actual competition). Results showed an effect only for sparring, with the VMBR group exhibiting better performance than all other groups. (25 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Article
    The effect of visuo-motor behavioral rehearsal (VMBR) training on tennis service performance during a tournament was investigated with 14 male tennis players (aged 17–45 yrs). Seven Ss were trained in relaxation 10 days before a major tournament and then given a relaxation and visualization audio-cassette tape to use daily prior to the tournament. The visualization part of the tape led them to imagine themselves performing in their 1st tournament match and guided them in repetitive practice on their serves. Seven other Ss also competed in the tournament but did not receive the VMBR training. The higher ability training group achieved a marginally significant improvement in their percentage of good 1st serves, while the lower ability training group declined in their accuracy. Overall performance, as measured by their ratio of winners to errors, also favored the higher ability training group. (10 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Three experiments examined the relative efficacy of different imagery perspectives on the performance of tasks in which form was important. In Exp 1, 25 experienced karateists (mean age 24.95 yrs) learned a new kata using either external or internal visual imagery or stretching. Results indicate that external visual imagery was significantly more effective than internal visual imagery, which was significantly more effective than stretching. In Exp 2, 40 sport science students (aged 18–35 yrs) learned a simple gymnastics floor routine under one of four conditions: external or internal visual imagery with or without kinesthetic imagery. Results reveal a significant main effect for visual imagery perspective (external visual imagery was best) but no effect for kinesthetic imagery. Exp 3 employed the same paradigm as Exp 2 but with 20 high-ability rock climbers (mean age 23.35 yrs) performing difficult boulder problems. Results show significant main effects for both visual imagery perspective (external visual imagery was best) and kinesthetic imagery. The findings are discussed in terms of the cognitive processes that might underlie imagery effects. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Article
    Assessed the effect of visuomotor behavior rehearsal (VMBR) with videotapted modeling on basketball shooting performance. Six players (aged 18–21 yrs) on a university women's basketball team were tested before and after VMBR on 3 levels of basketball shooting: (1) continuous free throws, (2) noncontinuous free throws, and (3) outside shots. Ss were administered a 5-day VMBR training program that consisted of a videotape beginning with relaxation procedures, immediately followed by a repeating sequence of a silhouetted player executing free throw shots, followed by imagery instructions, including key game performance variables. Shooting results indicate that Ss significantly improved in the noncontinuous (game simulated) free throw shooting category. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Article
    Examined whether rapid healing athletes (aged 14–48 yrs) who had recovered from knee/ankle injuries demonstrated greater evidence than did slower healing Ss of psychosocial factors thought to be related to enhanced healing. 32 Ss completed surveys designed to measure positive attitude, outlook, stress and stress control, social support, goal setting, positive self-talk, mental imagery, and items about beliefs and recommendations for enhanced healing. 19% of the Ss had exceptionally fast recoveries. These Ss evidenced high scores on all variables tested, while Ss in the slowest healing group evidenced low scores. The most significant results were found in the more action related factors of goal setting, positive self-talk, and the use of healing imagery. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)