Mind Over Sports

Archive for January 2010

“Psycho Self-Imagery” is the first new approach to the use of visualization techniques since the publishing of “Psycho Cybernetics” by Dr. Maxwell Maltz in 1960, a book that has subsequently sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. Many consider Maltz’s book to be the bible of the self-image industry

However, I’ve found that Dr.Maltz was not exactly on target. When he introduced his now famous “Theater of the Mind” first mentioned in his book “Psycho Cybernetics,” it became the prototype of visualization techniques worldwide.

According to a book review by Michael C. Gray, “One of Maltz’s key concepts was the Theater of the Mind, or synthetic experience. Here is an example of how it works. There are three teams of basketball players. One team practices making free throws. The second team doesn’t practice. The third team sits on a bench and mentally practices making free throws. When the three teams are tested, the team that practiced out-scores the team that didn’t practice. However, the team that mentally practiced performs nearly as well as the team that actually practiced. Maltz found he could actually improve performance by helping an individual mentally ‘see’ himself or herself doing the activity perfectly.”

But here is where Dr. Maltz and I part ways. While he felt that performance could be improved for everyone by helping individuals to mentally “see” themselves doing an activity perfectly (otherwise known as visualization), I’ve found that this type of exercise is totally ineffective if individuals are keeping their feelings and issues bottled up inside themselves. These feelings and issues must first be addressed and resolved (or begin the process of resolving them) before visualization will be effective.

Few are aware of the dominant role self-esteem plays in achieving the results you want to achieve in your life. People with high self-esteem are effective “visualizers” while those with low self-esteem are not. Individuals with high self-esteem are not encumbered with psychological baggage and unresolved issues because they confront their issues directly, while those with low self-esteem do not.

One of the main issues affecting self-esteem and preventing effective visualization, and probably the most common, is when individuals withhold their feelings. This “withholding” is a form of lying that demeans them and lowers their self-esteem. As their self-esteem is lowered they take fewer risks in interpersonal relationships, creating psychological baggage for themselves that affects their ability to focus and process information.


The Psycho Self-Imagery process involves resolving conflict in your life, not suppressing feelings, bringing personal and team-related issues to completion, being highly spiritual, helping others less fortunate than yourself and having your life in harmony. Then visualizing yourself being successful and actually creating positive events in your life, on and off the field of competition.
But when you have conflict in your life, when you are suppressing your feelings, when you have personal and team-related issues that you haven’t brought to completion, when you are not helping others less fortunate than yourself and when your life is in disharmony, you will actually create negative events in your life, on and off the field of competition. Two excellent examples are Tiger Woods and Roger Clemens.

Contrary to most media reports, Tiger Woods is not a Buddhist. His mother, however, is. Though Tiger is “steeped in the ways of Buddhism,” he is not a practicing Buddhist. In an interview I conducted a few years ago with John Anselmo, Woods’ 83-year old amateur coach who began working with Tiger when he was 10 years old, he told me it was Tigers’ mother, Kutilda, who first brought her son to him for instruction. And because his mother was originally from Thailand and was a practicing Buddhist, the young golfer had been steeped in the ways of Buddhism. Anselmo told me that he noticed immediately that Tiger had a sense of calmness about him and he attributed that quality to his having been reared in a Buddhist environment at home. He also told me that he believed that for Tiger, Buddhism was more of a way of life than a religion and that Tigers’ daily practice of meditation and the fact he was, at the time, leading a righteous life, had a tremendous influence on his mind. Unfortunately, like so many other professional athletes, Tiger has gone astray. But hopefully, after his ordeal with his soon-to-be-ex wife Elin is over, he will get his life back in order. Everyone deserves a second chance. And as for Elin, she has changed her residency to California which is a “community property” state where assets and net worth are split equally in divorce settlements. Sounds somewhat calculating to me.

Most coaches and athletes don’t realize it but hidden away in many foods (and not just Asian restaurant foods) is monosodium glutamate, a preservative and flavor enhancer that, in some people, causes an allergic reaction that is often categorized as a “flu-like” symptom. MSG is found in salad bars (some restaurants submerge their lettuce in water with MSG in it to keep it from turning brown), some restaurants use it in gravies and soups, some as a seasoning and a host of other ways.  And restaurants are not required to inform their customers which of their dishes include MSG.  Therefore, you never know if you’re eating it.  In today’s USA TODAY (“Sick Call”) there was an article about Alabama’s All-America linebacker Rolando McClain and backup defensive back Rod Woodson who both missed media day activities because of a “stomach virus.” Linebacker coach James Willis said McClain, the Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker, was fine and joked that he might have just wanted to skip the interview session. McClain “ate something wrong last night or whatever,” Willis said. Hey coach! That “whatever” might have been MSG! Check it out!

N. V. I.
National Visualization Institute

Learn how to visualize, resulting in increased performance.

PHONE: 417-773-2695

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