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					                            COUNSELLING SERVICES:
                   Personal Development and Performance Enhancement


Performance visualizations are commonly used by athletes, musicians and other performers to prepare
for upcoming events and manage anxiety. Students too can benefit from the use of visualizations to
prepare for academic performances, such as exams and presentations.

Visualizations will allow you to picture your performance in your mind before the actual event. This
will not only allow you to fine-tune your performance but also allow you to prepare your responses
for unexpected distractions, mistakes, or errors. In fact, performance visualizations provide an
opportunity for you to mentally rehearse more supportive, positive self-talk and other coping
strategies, so you can maintain your focus, confidence and composure.


<       If you’re a beginner, you might want to practice visualization 2 to 3 times a week for 5
        minutes. Gradually increase the duration and frequency as you become more proficient and
        comfortable with this practice.

<        Close your eyes. Picture an anxiety-producing performance situation. Use your senses to
         connect to that visual image. Imagine what you would hear, see, smell, and feel.

<        Imagine yourself preparing for the performance. Picture yourself as confident and composed.
         Hear yourself practicing positive self-talk.

<        Imagine yourself executing your performance. Take it one step at a time.

<        Picture an unexpected situation, such as a mistake or disruption. Take the time necessary
         to imagine how you will successfully respond to and overcome this problem.

<        If you have difficulty picturing yourself at first, imagine another person that you have
         observed successfully executing the performance. Pay close attention to his/her actions, so
         you can determine what contributes to his/her success.

                       Student Services Centre, Wilfrid Laurier University
                               (519) 884-0710, Extension 2338
                                    ... for your personal best

These performance visualizations can take place in the comfort of your own home, or even on
the stage, field or classroom. Beginners might find it easier to introduce their practice before
sleeping at night, or upon waking in the morning. However, if this practice produces or
exacerbates anxiety and/or creates sleeping difficulties, you might choose a time of the day and
a location that lends itself to relaxation and concentration. If you want to connect further with
your performance, try practicing the visualizations in your ‘starting position’ or incorporate any
relevant equipment or tools. For example, a musician might hold his/her instrument, whereas a
baseball player might practice his/her batting positioning while visualizing.

For further assistance on developing your own visualization practice, and/or for support and
problem-solving on other performance-related issues, please contact Counselling Services to
schedule an appointment with one of our Performance Coaches.

Written by: Carrie Pollard-Jarrell, MSW, Laurier Counselling Services
References: Maisel, E. (2005). Performance Anxiety. New York, NY: Back Stage Books. Orlick,
T. (2000). In Pursuit of Excellence. Windsor, ON: Human Kinetics.