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How Can Mental Imagery Lead to Football Success?

Have you been watching the Euros? As we gear up for England's next UEFA European Football Championship match this week, we are sharing a recent article published in The Atlantic entitled 'Why Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham Walks Alone on the Pitch Before Matches', which the SPRINT Project's Prof Jennifer Cumming was interviewed for.

Image description: Screenshot from The Atlantic article about mental imagery in football.

The article shows us that mental skills such as mental imagery differentiates the best athletes, as it enables them to cultivate confidence, defeat setbacks, and feel prepared and relaxed before performing in front of thousands of fans.

So what is mental imagery?

Mental imagery is a mental skill which involves taking time to imagine and slowly walk through a scenario by integrating sensations from our senses - sights, sounds, smells, taste and touch.

Check out this extract from the article, where Jenn tells us more about mental imagery and how it is used by the athletes like Jude Bellingham who are at the top of their game.

“The best imagers are also the better athletes. They tend to incorporate lots of really useful information in their image. They’ll make it rich and vivid and detailed and as real lifelike as possible, as if they’re experiencing the real thing.
“The way an image is typically generated is by taking something from your long-term memory and moving it to your working memory, so you can use it.
“You can manipulate it: you can take a memory of you taking a fantastic shot at Stadium A, then translate it to Stadium B, and be able to convince yourself that this is what’s going to happen, almost to the point that athletes will say it felt so real they think it has already happened." Prof. Jennifer Cumming


Interested in finding out more about mental imagery and the benefits of using it in your everyday life? Check out this blog post, where we explain its wide ranging benefits.

Whilst you watch the match this weekend, take a moment to imagine yourself on the pitch with the other players. You can tell us how it feels by getting in touch using the contact us form below!

Access The Atlantic article here.


Image credit: The Atlantic.

Written by Dr Sally Reynard, Post Doctoral Researcher in the SPRINT Project.

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