Visualizing the Super Bowl

15 September 2014
Mental Edge
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Visualizing the Super Bowl

As a new season begins for the Seattle Seahawks, a photo (courtesy of Vox Media) has been making the rounds on the web showing Pete Carroll standing just outside the end zone at MetLife field after the Seahawks dismantled the Giants during the regular season. In the week preceding the game, Carroll and team leaders discussed the importance of doing a dress rehearsal for the Super Bowl seeing as the stadium was hosting the big game in February. The approach that week, the travel, the hotels — all of it to create a rhythm so that if (and as we all know, when) the team made the Super Bowl, there would be a feeling of being there before.

Well, in this photo, Carroll stands behind the end zone, visualizing the grand spectacle that is the Super Bowl. It’s a serene shot, but you can imagine what’s running through his head. The pep speech before the game. Running out on the field under the bright lights. Various calls that need to be made in a split second when the game is on the line.

Bring It to Mind

Visualization is a powerful tool for an athlete. Whether you are a recreational golfer, a young baseball player suiting up for your middle school team for the first time, or a professional athlete, mental visualization of high performance will provide benefits.

Visualization brings the ideal to mind. It’s the perfect shot in golf. It’s hitting a home run. It’s converting the third down. But it’s also the details.

Before that shot lands in the fairway, you have visualized the club selection, the approach to the ball, and your practice strokes.

Before the home run, visualization envisions the tightening of the batting gloves, the look toward the third base coach, the warm-up swings on deck, and the actions taken in the dugout before it is your turn to bat.

Before you convert the third down, it’s about good communication with the team about the play call, reading the defense, and aligning in the right formation.

Aligning your mind and running through what you will do on the field can boost performance. Having encountered a specific action in your mind before it happens can give your mind that split-second head start to help you jump off the snap just a bit faster, or recognize the curveball a little bit earlier.

So What’s Your Super Bowl?

Is it a big game against a high school rival? Is it a difficult hole you can never convert a par on? Is it a mountain you are trying to climb?

Take a page out of Pete Carroll’s book. Go to the location of this event. Play it out in your mind. Do your best to touch every detail in the action. What gear are you wearing? What steps do you need to take for success?

You might be surprised at the calming influence visualization will give you when the moment comes. It’s hard to get psyched out about the moment when you’ve been there before!