Mental rehearsal…….

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So as I have been recovering for the few weeks I didn’t want to totally miss out on my training, as last time it took about three months before I was back on the mats.  Obviously I can’t physically train but I can look at visualisation or mental practise  as a kinda substitute for whilst I’m physically limited.  For those of you that aren’t aware of the process of visualisation, it’s been used in sports psychology and NLP for some time now.

Mental practise has also been called guided imagery, mental rehearsal, mediation, and a variety of other things it does not really matter what you call it, the basic techniques, concepts and the desired outcome are the same. Mental practise is the process of creating a mental image of what you want to happen or in my case practice.  It’s kind of like a mental rehearsal or “drilling” in your mind.

So you can can use this technique to ‘drill’ a technique or training session. By imagining a drill, complete with how you are supposed to interact with your partner/opponent. While imagining the drills, you should try to imagine the detail and the way it feels to perform in the desired way.  This is by using all of your senses, visual images and pictures so see yourself drilling or see your partner’s reactions. Kinaesthetic how the body feels, the weight of your partner’s body or the feel of the gi. Auditory the sound of partner stressing under your pressure or your bodies on the mat.  You could even imagine the smell of your gym. Effectively trying to make it as “real” as possible for your brain.  This means using the mind,  I can drill techniques with these images over and over, enhancing the skill through repetition, similar to physical practice.  Yes this all sounds a lot like The Matrix but this is for real.

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With mental practise, your brain creates the neuromuscular pathways to help your body become trained to actually perform the skill imagined. This is obviously not as good as actually performing the physical activity/skill as well, when you are starting from scratch.  It’s like learning to swim on dry land, it’s not going to work.  BUT I’m not looking to learn BJJ without ever having experienced it this way, just keep my mind sharp.  If you review most mental practise literature they have arrived at the conclusion that mental practise is more effective following initial physical practise. So the fact that I all ready practise BJJ obviously supports this process and makes it a practical option.

In the book Essential Reading in Sports & Exercise Psychology page 224 it states, “prior task experience may aid performers in internalizing a very clear model of what good performance of the task is like, even though they cannot perform it this way.”(Richardson 1967b).  This just reiterates that already knowing BJJ gives me the opportunity to understand what I should be doing properly and incorporate this into my mental practise.  I’m not expecting to become a purple belt doing this but whilst I am physically limited it should like I already said keep me mentally sharp. It is also good habit to create to support future learning on the mat. I definitely think it’s worth doing.

One interesting little comment, Mrs Munki was at a sports conference the other week and was speaking to an Olympic Rowing Coach.  She explained my predicament and what I was doing, the videos I have been watching.  His response straight away was, “ahh mental rehearsal good for him”. Yes, if a coach that got one of our athletes to achieve gold goes with this, thats another thumbs up in my book.

If anyone else does this currently or goes ahead and gives it a try I would be interested to hear from you.

Imagery in Sports – This a good paper that explains it all well, but it is sciencey.

Mental Imagery – This is a good balanced article on the subject.

Using Mental Rehearsal – A nice little how to by the Australian Sports Commission

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