Updated: May 4
As Irish dancers, we physically train our bodies to great extreme. If you’re attending a major championship coming up, you’re probably dancing 4-6 days a week right now in addition to a strength training program 2-3 days a week. Your seeing physical improvements in your stamina, strength, and technique, but what are you doing to train your mind for Irish dance? What tools do you utilize to regulate anxieties, focus, and confidence when it comes to competition day, big rehearsals, or everyday stress surrounding Irish dance? Visualization is the powerful tool you may be missing!
Visualization, or imagery, is a mental rehearsal that builds upon your strengths and helps eliminates your weaknesses. Studies (1,2) have show that a regular visualization practice will
build and maintain confidence and focus
develop coping strategies
maintain existing skills without adding stress to your body and avoid irritating existing injuries.
Four Tips to Creating a Powerful Visualization Practice
Tip #1 - Make your visualization practice a habit
The more you practice, the easier it will become and the stronger your imagery practice will be. Start with 5 minutes a day and find a time that works for you - first thing when you wake up, while driving to dance class, before bed, etc.
Tip #2 - Set the Stage
Image your surroundings - what does it look like, sound like, smell like, feel like? Smell it, hear it, taste it, feel it…be all the way in it!
Tip #3 - Visualize what you want
Give yourself permission to dream and push the boundaries. Clear your mind of negative thoughts and “what ifs” - “what if I fall?”, “what if I don’t recall?”, “what if I blank on stage?”. Picture that perfect dance day and go for the gold!
Tip #4 - Add Emotion
Ask yourself, “how does it feel?”. Way down in your gut, and in your heart, how does it feel? When you finish that perfect round during your visualization, you are pumped up! Feel it!
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1 Post P. G., Wrisberg C. A. (2012). A phenomenological investigation of gymnasts’ lived experience of imagery. Sport Psychol. 26 98–121. DOI: 10.1515/jirspa-2014-0005.
2 Thelwell R.C., Maynard I.W (2002). The effects of a mental skills package on ‘repeatable good performance’ in cricketers. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. (2003) - 377-396. doi:10.1016/S1469-0292(02)00036-5.