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Orange County, California

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  • Greg Hodel

Using visualization to identify problems in technique.

When I was in high school, I read a book on sports psychology and the author had a few chapters on visualization. I tried visualizing for one or two years while competing and I didn’t see very much benefit, so I stopped. It was difficult to visualize a continuous movement, and I had to see the movement slowly so that I could see all of the components executed properly. When I stopped competing and started coaching, I realized that when I had seen some weird movement in a visualization, it was due to actual problems in my technique. Because I wasn’t activating the correct muscles in the actual movement, the visualization reflected this neural programming. One problem in the visualization was that my left arm stayed in front of me. Unfortunately, I had to wait until I started coaching to realize that the arm was passive in the actual movement. Even though it moved, it was passive, and this appeared in the visualization as not moving at all. Because of this, I think visualization is an effective way to identify deficiencies in technique. There may be obvious unusual movements in the visualization like one leg swings outward, or one leg stops moving. Use these unwanted visualized movements to analyze what muscles might be passive. Try using these muscles in the visualization and the visualized movement may be corrected. The visualization may also be segmented which may show that there are some missing connections between the limbs. For example, maybe the trail leg stays back as you visualize pulling the lead leg down. This may show that there is no neural connection established between the glutes and the hip flexors of the opposite leg. Visualize simultaneously activating the glutes and opposing hip flexors to correct the visualization. Then try the same thing while running. Keep visualizing and work through the segmented or slow motions. As all of the components are connected, the visualization should be smooth and increase towards actual speed.

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