"Athletes have understood for a long time that muscles are affected by visualization...now we know, scientifically, that the brain is stimulated by the visualization, which then stimulates the muscles.  This is fact!" David R. Hamilton, PhD,  How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body
In the "Zone"
An athlete goes through 4 stages in learning a skill:
1. unconscious incompetence-
You don't know what you are doing and neither does your body.
2. conscious incompetence-
You know what you are doing and you know that you suck at it. 
3. conscious competence-
You know what you are doing and through practice & repetition, you have become very good at it.
4. unconscious competence-
 Your body is so programmed that you react without thinking, executing at an extremely high level. You are in the Zone! 
An Era of Dominance
From 1956 -1980 Russia (USSR) was virtually unbeatable in gymnastics.  In the late 1980's it was finally revealed that their success was fueled by the use of visualization. They not only trained physically but would mentally rehearse their routines 100's of times.
Now national sports teams everywhere, spend as much as 50% of their time on visualization.
Behind every action is a neural pathway.  Visualization can help turn that pathway into a super highway.  The brain can't differentiate if you travel the pathway physically or mentally!
Visualization in Sports

Visualization can be used to either master a skill, strengthen or rehab a muscle group, reduce stress or eliminate a fear. The use of visualization done while in hypnosis is a particularly powerful combination.  

The following are typical scenarios where visualization can be used under hypnosis:  
  • A young baseball player was hit by a pitch and is now afraid of the ball.
  • A basketball player makes a high percentage of free throws in practice but chokes in games.
  • An athlete is rehabbing from knee surgery.  He has gained strength but he is afraid of testing his knee.
  • A basketball player is working on using his off hand.
  • A team playing for the championship wants to play their best.
  • A golfer wants to perfect his swing. 
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Children naturally use visualization to learn life skills.  They mimic adults through role playing from very young on.  The process of using your imagination is very powerful.
Young athletes throughout the world imagine themselves being the the star basketball player with only 10 seconds left on the clock.  Imagine yourself doing a cross-over dribble to break free from the imaginary defender to get open as the clock counts down the final seconds.  Then in dramatic fashion, you rise and lift a high arcing shot over the outstretched hands of the "defender".  The ball swishes through the net as the horn sounds. You hear the crowd roaring as your teammates lift you in the air in celebration.  This is wonderful preparation for the time this situation may present itself in real life.  
We would all do well to take more time to exercise our imagination.  Just think of the possibilities for creating positive change in our lives!
"What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve." 
         from Think and Grow Rich                       by Napoleon Hill
"​The learned behaviors and beliefs acquired from other people, such as parents, peers, and teachers, may not support the goals or desires of our conscious mind.  The biggest impediments to realizing the successes of which we dream are the limitations programmed into the subconscious.  These limitations not only influence our behavior, they can also play a major role in determining our physiology and health."

The Biology of Belief       by Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D.