“Visualization training” has become a standard component of elite athletes’ training routines.
Michael Jordan, Christiano Ronaldo and Michael Phelps along with countless others are avid users of the powerful tool.
What makes visualization so effective?
Let’s get into it.
Your brain is composed of several regions. Each region serves a different role. One region controls high-level cognitive functions such as concentration while other regions control your ability to plan, control and perform movements.
Before performing any movement, your brain creates a plan of action. Take kicking a ball for example. Before making contact with the ball, the motor regions of your brain need to formulate the plan and send a message to your muscles to execute the kick via neural pathways, all in a fraction of a second. This planning process determines how successful your kick will be.
Now, you may be wondering, “how can I become better at this?”. The answer may surprise you: Visualization training.
Neuroscientific studies show that when you visualize yourself performing a movement such as kicking a ball, your brain creates the exact same plan of action as if you were about to physically kick the ball on the field. It’s possible to activate motor centers in your brain with visualization only.
Professional athletes find visualization training to be useful because it enhances the brain’s ability to plan, control and execute movement without any physical load on the body.
Imagine if you could receive real-time feedback on your visualizations and track improvements in your brain capabilities over time.
There’s no need to imagine because this already exists! It’s called neurofeedback and it is our specialty.
Neurofeedback has emerged in recent decades as a valuable tool to improve and automate specific behaviors, such as concentration, stress management, and planning of movement, among others.
The process is as follows: you are instructed to complete a mental task and are then given real-time feedback on your brain activity so you can see how well you are completing the task. The objective of neurofeedback is to teach you how to control your brain activity consciously. Brain activity is observed using an EEG headset and feedback is presented through visual or audio cues.
With regular practice, the brain physically strengthens itself and forms new connections in response to the rewarded brain activity, a well established principle in neuroscience known as brain plasticity. This leads to more efficient activation of the brain and higher likelihood of completing the mental task successfully.
i-BrainTech is a neurofeedback training system that improves your ability to focus, plan and execute key sport actions.
While training with the i-BrainTech system, you wear an EEG cap that observes your brain activity. You are then instructed to perform specific visualization tasks (e.g. visualize yourself shooting a penalty kick). The system evaluates three brain regions: motor cortex, prefrontal cortex and parietal cortex. These regions are responsible for concentration, motor control and alertness. The system only presents positive feedback (e.g. a goal in the game) if the desired brain activity is detected.
This real-time feedback strengthens connections in your brain by means of brain plasticity, resulting in improved performance on the pitch, when it matters most. With unique brain performance insights, you can quantify and track cognitive skill development over time.
Check out the scientific literature on neurofeedback for sports performance and recovery!
Journal of Sports Sciences
Imagery effects on the performance of skilled and novice soccer players
Characteristics of the athletes' brain: Evidence from neurophysiology and neuroimaging
Neurocognitive Enhancement Effects of Combined Mindfulness-Neurofeedback Training in Sport
The Journal of the American Board of Sport Psychology
Neurofeedback for the Enhancement of Athletic Performance and Physical Balance
Ann Agric Environ Med
Neurofeedback training for peak performance