Improving High Performance with Mental Rehearsal

In order to up your performance significantly, you need to do mental rehearsal with dynamic movements. Mental rehearsal is similar to visualization and Theatre of The Mind. With visualization or Theatre of the mind, you sit in a quiet spot, close your eyes, and begin. Doing mental rehearsal with movements adds to not only your visualization but your muscle memory as well.


Let’s look at examples from business and the sports world. When a speaker is preparing for a very important speech, they can improve their performance two-fold. They start by visualizing they are walking up to the podium. By standing while doing this, they can add in dynamic hand movements and using the upper body/face and shoulders. Power movements with the hands, trigger emotions and aid to install memories that can be recalled when acted upon.


In the sports world, let’s look at field goal kickers in the NFL. Just practicing kicking the ball is insufficient. They need to do mental rehearsal and actually make the motion of kicking the ball. Once they follow through with the leg kick, they can continue to visualize the ball going deep through the center of the upright posts. Even during my competitive softball days, I would use visualization techniques for my softball swing, bat swing angles and mechanics, timing, “Ikey Mickey” swing/chin techniques, use of legs for generating power, powering through the contact zone, and bat swing follow-through. It sounds like a lot to remember, right? Nope, because muscle memory remembered for me.


Now that we have discussed the basics of mental rehearsal, let’s break it down.


The brain plays different roles in mental rehearsal, from seeing and hearing the performance, to providing natural energy chemicals to make you feel great while doing an awesome job.


There are a number of different sections in the brain and for muscle memory, we use the cerebellum. Although it is very small, it holds approximately 50% of your brains neurons. Studies have shown that visualizing with actual movement, fires up the cerebellum. From there, different connections are made and muscle memory is engaged for later peak performances.


Before starting a mental rehearsal, think about what could go wrong before your next performance. By listing out possible issues and identifying solutions, it slows down the chance of having a bad performance because something went wrong.


In our example of making a speech, it is possible the microphone stops working or you get too hot and uncomfortable. Do you have a second microphone available and do you have the option of taking off an outer layer of clothes like your coat, or a quick break for a change of clothes?


Let’s look at examples from business and the sports world. When a speaker is preparing for a very important speech, they can improve their performance two-fold. They start by visualizing they are walking up to the podium. By standing while doing this, they can add in dynamic hand movements and using the upper body/face and shoulders. Power movements with the hands, trigger emotions, and aid to install memories that can be recalled when acted upon.-yard field goal, it will be as if it actually happened. It is necessary to understand what emotions will serve you during a peak performance and be able to call them up instantly.


Go through your first mental rehearsal and remember what went well and what went wrong. If you were using dynamic hand movements and it didn’t help to trigger the right emotion, then do the rehearsal again using a different hand movement. For example, many people use the “jabbing finger,” movement to help make their point. If that is not working, then try again using the right hand striking the palm of the left-hand movement.


Go through the mental rehearsal repeatedly, changing and tweaking until you can give yourself high marks for a great performance. Studies have shown that mental rehearsal is not an instant fix it button. Just like learning to play the piano, you must practice, practice, and do more practice. It is never-ending but will pay huge dividends in your overall success.

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