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Imagery - the powerful, performance enhancing tool for Irish dancers

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Irish dance mentality, Irish dance strength and conditioning

Reduce competition anxiety, improve performance and reduce risk of injury…yes, please!

Imagery is a powerful, performance enhancing tool with undeniable positive results for dancers. Just like we train our bodies for dance competitions, we also need to train our minds. And an imagery practice is the perfect tool for this!


Studies have shown that a routine imagery practice has powerful effects on your performance, confidence, anxiety, and reduces your risk of injury.


Imagery studies have shown improvement in performance through greater skill acquisition. For Irish dancers, this is very important because your steps require a high level of technique and skill to properly execute each movement.


Studies have show that a consistent imagery practice improves an athletes self-efficacy (confidence in your own abilities), overall confidence, and mental toughness. Three essential components to a successful competition day.


Research shows that an imagery practice helps athletes cope with pre-competition anxiety and is an effective coping mechanism to use to help treat performance anxiety. Imagery is also a powerful tool used to psych yourself up to perform at your best if you’re feeling low energy.

Injury Risk

By staying off the dance floor, while still prepping for competition via imagery, you are allowing your body to relax and heal. Because of this, you are decreasing your risk of injury.

With the promising effects imagery has on an athlete’s performance, it is a tool every Irish dancer should be utilizing prior to competitions.

Below are my tips for beginning an imagery practice. If you’re interested in a guided imagery practice, check out the Target Training Online Institute where a guided imagery recording is available for all TTOI athletes. For a limited time, also receive the first month free (and you can cancel at any time) by using the code 1MONTHFREE at checkout. Get started at


Set up a time to practice

Figure out a good time that you can perform your imagery practice. Some of my favorite times are before bed or while you’re in the car (not if you’re driving, of course!).

Prepare yourself

Sit or lay in a comfortable position and close your eyes.

Set the stage

Imagine a competition day. What do you look like (costume, wig, makeup, etc) , what do you smell (tanner, hair spray, perfume, etc), what do you feel (itchy dress, wig, bobby pins). Make this scene in your head look AND feel like reality.

Perform your steps

Picture yourself on the competition stage and go through each of your rounds, performing them with impeccable skill, power, and control. You are dancing the best you ever have and it feels amazing. Get excited about it, feel it.

At this step, you could also choose to use music (highly recommended if you have timing issues).


The more you practice imagery, the stronger this practice will become. Try to minimally go through each round every day. If you feel that pang of pre-competition anxiety, go to your imagery practice to help channel that anxiety into a productive practice.



Receive 14 DAYS FREE @ the Target Training Online Institute

Irish dance strength & conditioning, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE! Join the Target Training Online Institute today and get a FREE 14-day trial of the Trainer subscription, no code needed.

Ellen G Waller Irish dance, Irish dance strength and conditioning


Abma, C. L., Fry, M. D., Li, Y., & Relyea, G. (2002). Differences in imagery content and imagery ability between high and low confident track and field athletes. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14, 67–75.

Ahsen, A. (1984). ISM: The triple code model for imagery and psychophysiology. Journal of Mental Imagery, 8, 15–42.

Andersson, E. K., & Moss, T. P. (2011). Imagery and implementation intention: A randomised controlled trial of interventions to increase exercise behavior in the general population. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 12, 63–70.

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