How Visualization can help you improve your game
Approximate reading time: 4min 32sec
¿What is visualization?
Visualization is a mental training technique.
When we visualize, we are using our imagination to make repetitions in our minds about what we want to train.
The brain does not distinguish between what is real and what is imaginary.
If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. Your mind makes it…real.
(Which movie is this quote from? Guess?)
In recent years, the power of visualization has been proven in scientific tests like this one, conducted by Australian psychologist Alan Richardson and reported in the Research Quarterly, in which they used the training of basketball free throws to measure the effectiveness of visualization.
Briefly, they created three groups of people and applied different training routines to each one.
The first one trained exclusively throwing a real ball for an hour daily, the second one trained only visualizing (imagining that they were successfully making free throws) and the third one did not train, it was a control group.
After 30 days, the results were astounding. The first group improved their scores by 24%…and the second group by 23%, only using their imagination!
It is a very powerful technique.
It is also used by many great athletes, like Adam Ondra, one of the best climbers in the world, as you can see in this video.
The keys to visualize correctly and effectively are:
- Use your imagination at its full potential. You have to imagine what you are training as if it was happening right now. You can do it by using a lot of detail: sounds, smells, sensations, environment, movement. Imagine with your 5 senses.
- Imagine in first-person, not in third view perspective. Through your eyes.
- Add emotions to your visualization. Feel it like it was real. Emotion is a multiplier of your brain and it has been proven that it improves memory consolidation and recalling of experiences at a later date.
Pretty easy! And you can use it anywhere.
What is visualization used for?
- Create new beliefs. If you want to do something you have never done before, first you have to believe that you are capable of doing it (4-minute mile).Using your imagination to visualize that you are completing a task or a challenge successfully you will internalize the belief that you can and you will be more prepared to actually perform it in real life.You are able to develop confidence in an action or a skill before actually trying it in real life, and you maximize your chances of success.
- Visualize goals. Same way as before, if you do not believe that you are capable of achieving a specific goal, you will not take action decisively.Strong beliefs lead to massive actions and weak beliefs lead to small actions. Furthermore, visualizing your goals you will develop an emotional link between what you want and the present moment, which will also make you more determined in your actions to reach your goals.
- Train a skill or action. As Alan Richardson proved in the free throws experiment, you can train any skill or action using visualization as a part of your training routine. Doing mental repetitions of what you want to train, you will improve without any of the costs of actually trying that skill in real life. You can train anything you can imagine about.
And, more importantly for us…
¿How can we apply visualization to play better and become stronger players?
1º Enter the zone.
Imagine that you are starting your session and imagine or remember everything that you do when you are in the zone and playing at your best level.
What are you focusing on, what are you feeling, how are you moving and breathing, how are you seated, how are you making decisions, what are you thinking about.
Everything, in detail, and vividly, as if it was really happening right now.
If you practice this exercise before your session, it will help you bring that state to the present moment and it will help you start your session in the same way.
2º Reduce your tilt.
You can use visualization to practice your reaction when facing the situations that usually make you tilt.
For example, if you always tilt if you run under EV, you can vividly imagine yourself playing, with as much detail as possible, and imagine that you go all-in ahead and lose, and imagine how you ideally want to react and how do you want to think in that case.
Keep imagining the same session and, again, you go all-in ahead…and lose. And you repeat the same process, you imagine yourself just absorbing the information that you need, and moving on to the next hand without judging or complaining, you imagine yourself calm, focused and ready to face the next hand at your highest level.
Another example, if you tend to tilt a lot when weaker players bad beat you, use the same process to train that reaction. Use your imagination to make mental repetitions of different bad beats, one after another and imagine yourself having an optimal reaction to those hands and how you keep your inner stability and the quality of your game no matter what happens.
If you get used to practicing these exercises a little bit every day before your session, when those situations arise in your real sessions, you will be much more prepared to react to them.
You will have more awareness of those situations because you would have been training them and you will remember exactly how you want to react.
These exercises will help you save a lot of money and frustration and will make you much more resistant to tilt.
3º Train your decision making.
Each decision point in a hand requires awareness of lots of different data points and good thought patterns.
Both players ranges, spr, hud stats, reads, timings, board texture, equilibrium vs exploitative decision, think about the next streets, etc. If you think that you usually miss information or that you don’t know how to think properly when making the decision live in just a few seconds, you could write down the process that you want to follow each time and train it using visualization.
It is also highly recommended to use this type of training when you are studying new lines or concepts and changing your game.
Visualization has no limits, you can apply it to improve any aspect of your sessions. Choose the situations that cause the most pain to you or the ones that are costing you the most and visualize them every day before playing.
It is a great exercise to improve as players.
Pokermind, the first mental game manager, includes guided visualizations as part of the pre-session routine, the Warmup.
You will find 6 different visualizations, designed for different mental states:
- A guided relaxation + an A-game visualization. Designed to help you enter the zone and start your session at 100%.
- A shorter A-game visualization, straight to the point.
- A 7 minute guided relaxation, for those days when anxiety, nerves or fear are more present.
- A shorter guided relaxation.
- A visualization specially designed for downswings. It will help you forget what you can’t control and focus on what you can, which is a lot, so you can develop your best game at the tables.
- A visualization created for those days in which you feel overconfident after having run well. It will help you, again, focus on what you can control and lower your expectations.
If you want to download the first Visualization as an MP3, enter your email below.
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Thank you very much!