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Jumping exercise demonstrates effects of visualization

This is an excerpt from Inside Sport Psychology eBook by Costas I. Karageorghis & Peter Terry.

We have used this exercise many times in lectures and public presentations to demonstrate how sport psychology techniques can assist performance. Ask a friend or a coach to read the following instructions to you one by one and follow them carefully:

  1. Perform a gentle stretch, particularly of the major muscles in your legs.
  2. Mark a line on the floor ensuring that there is at least 6 yards (about 6 meters) clear in front of you. Stand just behind the line with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Perform a standing long jump (i.e., bend your knees and propel yourself forward to land on both feet), jumping as far as you can (see figure 1.1). Have your friend or coach place a marker to the side of where your heels landed.
  4. Repeat this process a few times so that you are properly warmed up.
  5. Now place another marker a few inches beyond your current best effort to give you a specific goal to aim for. Before you jump, close your eyes and visualize yourself reaching the target distance.
  6. When you have seen yourself achieving this improved distance in your mind’s eye, take another jump. Measure the distance between the best of your earlier trials and the post-visualization trial. You may well find that you have jumped a significant distance farther.