Relaxation and Imagery Training
This is a one-hour session that is often part of a Partnership with Coach Traub. It includes training in relaxation, use of affirmations, and imagery. All are learnable skills, and taking the time to practice them with Coach Traub's guidance gives athletes the confidence to continue working on these skills on their own.
Most of this program is also available on an Audio CD for baseball or softball hitters or pitchers here. PLEASE compare the price for this CD to other similar sport psychology CD's. Coach Traub over-delivers value with superb content and low prices!
The biggest part of this program is the guided progressive relaxation and imagery. However, the lessons in the article below are also covered.
God, grant me the strength to swing easier.
-A golfer's prayer
We Can Stop Our Muscle Fibers from Contracting
Tension is literally the contraction of muscle fibers. Relaxation is the absence of tension. Awareness is necessary for adjustments to happen. Therefore, if an athlete doesn't realize he's too tight, he won't fix the problem. Learning to relax is a three step process (like learning anything, really): know where you want to be, know where you are, and figure out how to get from here to there.
How do we know where we want to be? We need clear goals. "Clear" means we need to know what we have to do that is totally within our control to achieve the goal. Pay attention when you're doing well so you can repeat. Pay attention when others are doing well so you can imitate. Ask the right questions constantly. Paying this much attention to life, including muscle tension, is too much for a majority of people, but it is normal stuff for champions like you!
How do we know where we are? Check. Right now, check the tension in the back of your neck. You probably are carrying more than you need simply to keep your head from falling forward, but without checking, you didn't realize this. Does this mean we should check for tension before a football play, a free throw, or any other performance? It depends... if tension has a history of keeping you from giving your best effort, then yes. Is this making your preparations to perform too difficult and complex? No. Isn't a goal to keep it simple? Yes, during the performance-- not before it. You can add this check for tension into your pre-performance routine and practice it over and over again, making it routine, or no big deal.
How do we figure out how to get from here to there (tight to relaxed, in this case)? Experiment. Make your best guess, try it a few times, and then decide if it seems to help or hurt. Here are some ideas to experiment with:
Ø Take a deep breath (down in your belly) and just let the tension go during the exhalation.
Ø The breathing exercise on the next page.
Ø Contrast strategy: tighten the muscle group as tight as possible, then breathe in and release it on exhalation.
Ø Shake it out.
Ø Positive self-talk to take the pressure off and increase confidence (all mental skills training is designed to help with this issue, so keep practicing your mental skills)
Ø Use your routine to promote full preparedness and comfort, and to help you get lost in the process of what you’re doing.
Ø Pay attention to your body during stretching.
Ø Progressive Relaxation
Dialing your hype number down.
Breathe deeply, getting the air down towards your belly. Breathe smooth and steady, trying to connect the breaths (smooth out the transitions).
Inhale confidence Inhale relaxation Inhale enjoyment
Exhale negativity Exhale stress Exhale worries
(Finish with: Inhale confidence)
Long Version: Short version (to be used during competition):
Do each pair 5 times (5 breaths) Do one breath for each.
Then do each pair 3 times Practice the long version to increase the effect of the short version.
Then do each pair once
(Finish with: Inhale confidence)
Use your mental skills to find the words and images that best bring in and get out the ideas listed. For example, don’t just say “confidence” while inhaling. Rather, picture a past peak performance or remind yourself that you’ve executed this skill many times before. Enjoyment reflects not only having fun, but also being fully present in the moment. Exhaling worries is releasing both worries about the future and regrets about the past. You might prefer separating these two with an extra breath.