Continuation of Part 1:

An Inside Look to an Athlete’s Path

Written by Joe Garcia, Owner of Arena Fitness

Mental Rehearsing and Visualization

Hearts pounding, breathe, relax, establish the position, stay loose, be explosive, be patient, breathe, relax, slow your heart rate Joe, go for the double leg, be patient, watch the triangle, good base, posture up, breathe, relax, be patient, play your game, don’t rush, breathe, relax…

These are just a few of the many thoughts that can go through a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter’s mind during a match. Now imagine that times 20 and going at a 100 mph pace while having to fight someone that can potentially break your arm or choke you out. How does an athlete train for this high level of focus? How does one take what you learn and train on a daily basis and apply it when it needs to count? How do you manage adrenaline in a stressful situation?

While most of you may not be practitioners of BJJ there may be many other scenarios in your life to which this may apply. Many of us have stress or have to manage stressful situation on a daily/weekly basis where mental rehearsal and/or visualization can become useful.


– reacting quickly to avoid a car accident in traffic

– an argument with your General Contractor over the 4-week delay he has to put on your remodeling project.

– your wedding day; having to recite your vows in front of a crowd of your closest friends and family

– the 3-day bar exam you have been cramming for the last 4 years

– going into an interview for a prestigious job

– a sales call

– teaching

– any athletic performance

And we’re all capable of using mental rehearsal as a tool for coping and/or excelling in our lives.? It just takes practice, and, although I’m just a beginner, I’ve already experienced it’s benefits in my training.
Those of you who watched the Winter Olympics last month may recall seeing American skier Lindsey Vonn with her eyes closed before every race as if in a trance,? and her hand tracing a pattern back and forth.? I can’t be certain, but I’m guessing that she was, in her own way, visualizing the race before it happened.? And, considering she won the gold medal, maybe there’s something to this.? I remember reading recently that athletes who mentally rehearse or participate in visualization exercises prior to an athletic event actually stimulate the same neuromuscular reactions during mental preparation as they would during the race!? In short, their muscles were experiencing the event even though it was only taking place in their imagination.? This causes them to be more relaxed during the actual event, because, in effect, they’ve already competed!? Give it a shot; the mind can be the most powerful muscle in your body.

Suggested Reading:

“Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence”

Author – Gary Mack, with David Casstevens

“Mind over Muscle”

Author – Jigoro Kano

“Finding Your Zone: Ten Core Lessons for Achieving Peak Performance in Sports and Life”

Author – Michael Lardon

“Head Games: The Use of Mental Rehearsal to Improve Performance”

Author – Dr. Scott Williams

Joe Garcia is the owner of Arena Fitness, a fitness training facility in Encino, California.

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