Visualization for Agility – Use your senses…

Use all your senses

Course visualization is common practice among agility competitors – but have you ever considered using all of your senses while doing it? You’ll get more out of it if you do!

As we move through our environment, whether it is in our home or on an agility course, we all experience it through many different sensory inputs. These inputs, or senses, are our brain’s connection to what’s happening around us.

Think about how we experience something as simple as slicing a lemon. We can see the tiny droplets of lemon juice as the knife splits through the peel. We hear the knife quietly slide through the lemon, finishing with that unique thunk as the blade hits the cutting board. Our finger tips grip the smooth, yet bumpy peel and we feel the moisture of the juice as it flows out. Almost instantly, our nose fills up with that fresh scent of lemon and we can almost taste the bitter sourness of the fruit. So what does this have to do with visualizing an agility course? Here’s what…

One reason that visualization techniques are effective in improving performance is that they allow the brain to practice the skill being visualized. When you visualize, the brain activates many of the same areas needed to actually perform the skill. The brain believes that you are running the agility course. The amount of belief your brain has in your visualization comes down to vividness. How real is it?

Most of the time we don’t pay attention to much of the incoming sensory information our body generates. That’s a good thing since there’s more than we could possibly use. However, hidden from our conscious mind, our brain is continually using that sensory information to make sure we are able to do things like run an agility course, walk up a flight of stairs, or reach for a drink.

When we want to use visualization effectively, we want to give our brains as much of that information as possible. Think of your senses and the information they provide during a run and use that to create vivid images.

  • What do you see when you’re running your course? -Obstacles, Dog, Judge?
  • What can you hear? -Gate Steward, Dogs barking, Spectators?
  • What can you smell? -Grass, Sunscreen?
  • How does your body feel? -Muscles and joints working as you run the course?
  • How does your mind feel? -Focused, anxious?

No detail is too small. Take a minute the next time you’re about to visualize your run and consider all your senses.  You may not be aware of all the sensory inputs needed for a fast and clean run but your brain is. Give it what it needs and boost your performance.

I would love to hear what you use to create vivid visualizations for agility. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments.

Leave A Reply (4 comments so far)

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  1. Susan
    8 years ago

    Awesome post John! I do some visualizing sitting in a comfortable chair with eyes closed but find I do my best visualizing standing up where I can go through the motions of each move (I also do this with my eyes closed).

  2. Kristine Kubota
    8 years ago

    John and Kim,

    This is my first summer trialing for both myself and my German Shorthaired Pointer Jersey. She has been very successful in only her first 3 AAC Trials earning her ADC and moving up to Advanced Jumpers! But this weekend was not our best. It was 40 degrees with the humidity and she just had NO energy to work. She managed to finish on a positive note but coming home disappointed today and then reading you article, I feel inspired. So for this I think you both.

    Kristine & Jersey

    • John Cullen
      8 years ago

      Hi Kristine,

      Thanks for the comments. There will be many ups and downs during your journey with Jersey. Enjoy all the ups and learn from all the downs. When you reflect back you will have great memories you can share together.

  3. Kristine Kubota
    8 years ago

    oh yes and I forgot to add that as a competitive Hunter/Jumper Equine Competitor on the A Circuit, I have found that visualization is KEY! And it definately holds true to agility as well :)

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