TWEAKS 2 MYC #24: IMAGERY SCRIPT

Picture tweaks 2 MYC 24

After going through the “basic imagery training” (refer to TWEAKS 2 MYC #23: Imagery), a great way to improve the complexity of your images and increase the overall effectiveness of your imagery practice is to create an imagery script. According to Williams and colleagues (2013), before writing an imagery script, you must go through a planning phase, which involves asking yourself the following set of questions:

  • Who will use the script?
    • Individual athlete or team?
      • If the script is for an individual athlete, then it should include more details about the individual’s characteristics
      • If the script is for a team, then it should include generic details to allow for personalization as well as more details about teammates
    • Young athlete or older athlete?
      • If the script is for a young athlete, then it should include more metaphors (e.g., “running fast like a cheetah”)
      • If the script is for an older athlete, then it should include more vivid descriptions of the image
    • Novice athlete or expert athlete?
      • If the script is for a novice athlete, then it should include simpler movements
      • If the script is for an expert athlete, then it should include more complex movements
    • Ego-oriented athlete (i.e., focuses on winning) or task-oriented athletes (i.e., focuses on mastery)?
      • If the script is for an ego-oriented athlete, then it should include comparisons with other people
      • If the script is for a task-oriented athlete, then it should include self-referenced comparisons
    • Athlete that prefers an internal perspective or athlete that prefers an external perspective?
    • Athlete with good imagery ability or athlete with poor imagery ability?
      • If the script is for an athlete with good imagery ability, then it should include more sensory modalities, more details, and be longer in length
      • If the script is for an athlete with poor imagery ability, then it should include less sensory modalities, fewer details, and be shorter in length (1-2 minutes)
    • Where and when will the script be used?
      • Home, practice, or competition?
        • An athlete should start by using the imagery script at home
        • Once they feel comfortable, they should use it before practice and then before competition (if they want to include imagery in their pre-performance routine)
      • Before, during, or after practice/competition?
    • Why will the script be used?
      • To improve a skill?
      • To improve a strategy?
      • To improve confidence?
      • To increase or decrease arousal?
      • To achieve a specific goal?
    • What content will be included in your imagery script?
      • Temporal cues? (e.g., during the last lap of the race)
      • Situational cues? (e.g., stepping on the ice)
      • Sensory modalities? (e.g., the smell of the swimming pool)
      • Thoughts? (e.g., I tell myself, “let’s go champ”, before the bell rings)
      • Feelings? (e.g., I feel relaxed and confident in front of the goaltender)
      • Music? (e.g., merge high tempo music with your imagery script to psych yourself up)

Once you’ve answered the questions outlined above, it’s time for you to create your own imagery script. Below are the basic guidelines on how to properly create an effective imagery script:

  • Tell the story
    • Select a competitive scenario or specific skills that you want to work on and break it down into smaller segments
      • Example for a 100m race
        • Entering the venue
        • Setting up in the starting blocks
        • Sound of the starter’s gun going off
        • Acceleration phase
        • Reaching maximum velocity
        • Maintaining maximum velocity
        • Crossing the finish line
        • Celebrating
      • Add the details
        • Add appropriate adjectives and descriptors to each segment
          • Entering the venue
            • Blue track with white lines
            • Crowd cheering
            • Opponents walking to the starting lines
          • Setting up in the starting blocks
            • Specific stretches
            • Spikes are firmly placed into the blocks
            • Your muscles feel strong and powerful
            • Focus only on the lane directly in front of you
            • Tell yourself, “this is my race to win”
        • Refine the script
          • Combine the story and details into a clear and easily readable script
          • Record the script onto your music device
          • Use the pronoun “You” or “I”
          • Your voice (clarity, tempo, tone, enunciation, and pronunciation) should allow you to focus on the imagery
          • If pauses are inserted into the script to allow you time to generate an image, these should not be so long that you lose focus

Once the imagery script is created, it’s important that you pilot test it before you use it on a regular basis. Furthermore, as you use the script, frequently evaluate your imagery ability. This will enable you to incorporate more senses and complex movements into your images as you become more skilled.

The last stage of imagery will involve practicing without a script. This will give you the flexibility to imagine different scenarios based on your needs and ultimately become familiar with a variety of situations (e.g., imagining different ways that a match can unfold).

Set goals. Do just one thing at a time. Keep it simple and smart. Do it consistently. Reflect on the process.

Reference

Williams, S. E., Cooley, S. J., Newell, E., Weibull, F., & Cumming, J. (2013). Seeing the difference: Developing effective imagery scripts for athletes. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 4, 109-121.

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