Roy, J., Chaitanya, B.S., Sports Authority of India and Kamath, R., Mangalore University, India
Imagery is a skill which each athlete consciously or unconsciously practices. However some athletes use this very systematically and integrate it to their training regime. When an athlete visualizes he actually sends small messages through nervous systems particular messages. Imagery thus helps in reducing the mental blocks by facilitating quick decision making under pressure situations. Imagery is thus complimentary to physical practice where body sensations are used to the fullest (e.g.: feelings, seeing, hearing, odor, temperature, color, and movement and minute details of the environment). The relevance of cognitive intervention strategies is well-documented in Sports performance related literature. In recent days Indian athletes have realized the value of utilization of Mental Imagery / Imagery. This study is a report of intervention strategy employed on an Indian athlete. The intervention was done on a 20 year old athlete who was preparing for participating in the forthcoming National track and field competition. The athlete reported and while running the race and approaching the finishing line. Imagery training was imparted in dealing and clearing the mental blocks with a hope that the training would facilitate enhancement of self-confidence. The procedure included '' explaining and developing the right attitude for imagery'', training the athlete to ''hold images'' etc. The distance of 400 meters was bifurcated into 4 segments and imagery training was given. Heart rate was monitored using biofeedback equipment for each imagery session. 29 sessions was conducted for the trainee and introspective report of each session was taken. The mean values of initial, middle and final heart rate responses were calculated and a graph plotted. The mean values of the heart rate of the 29 sessions provided the pattern of Inverted - U. Gradual improvement was noted as the sessions progressed. The athlete reported confidence in controlling her self-doubt. She was advised to give positive affirmation during imagery practice especially when she felt like giving up the race in the middle. Towards the latter sessions of the training the athlete reported confidence in running the 400- meter event and reported control of excessive self-doubt, which was troubling her in the finishing point. The paper will also discuss the benefits of imagery training and how to sustain interest in imagery training for longer period.