Swimming visualisation techniques can help you swim faster and is part of the wider umbrella of sports psychology. Visualisation can help improve the quality of concentration and reduce the pressures of training and competition.
“Winners see what they want to have happen. Losers see what they are afraid might happen.”Grant Hackett – Freestyle Olympic Medallist
Swimming visualisation occurs with swimmers creating a series of images without external prompts or stimulation. However, swimmers may depend on auditory, touch or kinesthetic movements. The aim is to create a series of mental images of what you want to happen or feel. For example, a swimmer may visualise the start of a race and use imagery to foresee a perfect start to a race.
There is a positive relationship between the mental side and physical performance of the athlete. The swimmer may use this to “intend” an outcome of a particular race, training session, or to simply feel in a relaxed state. Whilst imagining the scenarios and images, the swimmer should try and feel or see every step-by-step detail and how that feels.
Swimming visualisation scenarios should include as many senses as possible. Here are a few ideas for a backstroke swimmer that is setting up within the pool for a backstroke start:
- images of the pool, wall, starting block, lane position within the pool
- environment of the swimming pool and water
- cold feel of the water
- movement of the water
- sounds of team-mates and crowd noises
- feeling of the body before the race, ready to hit a new PB time
By rehearsing this, the swimmer can call upon these images over and over again, enhancing the skills through repetition and time. Research (1) has shown that physical and psychological improvements can be made through the use of visualisation.
Through this repetition a swimmer can become more confident in their ability to perform in a given scenario or situation. Visualisation can expose the swimmer to a vivid experience that demonstrates high levels of success and self-belief.
In summary, swimming visualisation can be used to help give swimmers that slim winning margin.
Like what you read? Want to learn more? Head over to our Sports Psychology page and see how Ox Strong Health can help you with your swimming meet preparations.
- Blankert T, Hamstra MR. Imagining success: Multiple achievement goals and the effectiveness of imagery. Basic Appl Soc Psych. 2017;39(1):60-67. doi:10.1080/01973533.2016.1255947
- Di Corrado D, Guarnera M, Vitali F, Quartiroli A, Coco M. Imagery ability of elite level athletes from individual vs. team and contact vs. no-contact sports. PeerJ. 2019;7:e6940. doi:10.7717/peerj.6940