To achieve high results in the sport competitions of different levels, it is necessary to pay attention not only to the improvement of physical skills and abilities and to the regular training but also to the development of the athletes’ mental skills. In this case, imagination can be discussed as the most influential mental skill.
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In their article, Duran-Bush and Salmela state that different external factors, personal relations, specific features of training, and personal characteristics including motivation and imagination can influence the peculiarities of an athlete’s development and maintenance (Durand-Bush & Salmela, 2002).
According to Vealey, the aspects of the athlete’s performance can be influenced by the level of his mental skills’ development. Thus, the author’s main idea is that the improvement of such a mental skill as imagination is equal in its effectiveness to the regular training because athletes have the opportunity to provide the expected picture of their further success (Vealey, 2007).
In his turn, Gladwell develops the notion of the ‘physical genius’ and indicates that such mental processes as imagination and especially visualization are of great importance for the physical progress because they affect neurological mechanisms (Gladwell, 1999). Thus, the level of the athletes’ successes and their results depend on a variety of factors.
Although those results which athletes perform at the competitions are predominantly based on their physical state, the regularity of their training, the quality of the recovery, and the effectiveness of the used techniques, it is also necessary to focus on such characteristics as the development of the athletes’ mental skills, imagination and visualization in particular, because the athletes can not only regulate their motor functions but also use their productive thinking in order to create the picture of success.
Being able to manage his or her thoughts effectively, an athlete can influence the neurological processes which are important for the improvement of the physical abilities (Gladwell, 1999). Thus, the imagination power can be used to change the physical state and improve the effects of the training.
Nevertheless, the development of mental skills is also the necessary condition for the emotional progress of an athlete. The sportsman should be oriented to the success.
In this case, both the athletes and their coaches focus on the development of the athlete’s achievement drive and high performance skills in order to provide the fundament for the further victory. To achieve the best results, it is equally important to train regularly and to use productive thinking, set clear goals, relax, and manage physical and emotional energy (Vealey, 2007).
Having analyzed the conclusions of the authors, it is possible to discuss some controversial issues. Durand-Bush and Salmela examined a lot of factors divided into several groups which are essential for the athlete’s progress using the answers of the Olympic champions (Durand-Bush & Salmela, 2002).
However, it is rather difficult to indicate such a variant of the factors’ combination which can be considered as the most successful with referring to the problem of the mental skills’ development. It is impossible to determine only one effective pattern because of the diversity of variations and individual physical and mental peculiarities of athletes.
Moreover, paying attention to Gladwell’s viewpoint, it is possible to suppose that the controlled mental activity is of great importance for athletes because it can influence the success of the sportsmen with ordinary physical abilities or without the obvious potential.
To conclude the discussion, it is necessary to state that only the successful combination of the athletes’ physical and mental development with references to the possibilities of imagination, visualization, relaxation, and the effective setting of goals can lead to their great sport achievements.
Durand-Bush, N. & Salmela, J. H. (2002). The development and maintenance of expert athletic performance: Perceptions of world and Olympic Champions. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14, 154-171.
Gladwell, M. (1999). The physical genius. Web.
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Vealey, R. S. (2007) Mental skills training in sport. In G. Tenenbaum & R.C. Eklund (Eds.), Handbook of sport psychology (pp. 287-309). Hobokken: Willey.