John Taylor
Visualization question...
I was having a discussion today about visualization and importance of the mental practice in throwing far. What does everyone do as far as visualization goes? How often, when, and what types of examples can anyone share for us?

 

Joe Greenberg (200+ ft. jav thrower)
Visualizations
As indicated in a previous post, I have followed the Russian relaxation methodology outlined by Michael Yessis in the 80s. I watch videos of model throwers (could even be tapes of one's own good throws) as I stretch and do yoga-type breathing just before going to bed the night before throwing. The relaxed state helps break down barriers to accepting/internalizing images.
I repeat this in the morning right after awakening before going off to the track. After the same warm-up/stretch/drill routine as I use in practice, I begin run thruís and warm up throws, focusing on replicating the visualizations in my physical efforts.
As I have also indicated in past posts, I tie in music that has the rhythm I am seeking in my approaches to watching the videos, my warm ups and even whistling at the head of the runway. Explains why I look so goofy, I'm guessing.
The big key, as Jack Nicklaus has said, is to see the whole approach, launch and especially the entire exact flight of the implement. This is much more difficult than it sounds (at least for me)as one stands at the head of the runway, stripping away all the distractions (college girls in lycra for most male throwers). The belief and relaxation that comes from seeing the whole throw is an undervalued asset.
One last visualization: if I do not like the conditions (cold head winds like this morning in Texas), I visualize warm sun and tailwinds in my mental movie. When you feel the still warmth of the sun on your face, you know you are in the zone.


 

Jeff Gorski
What worked for me- a long post
6-7 nights a week for 45-50 minutes a session. The first thing you have to master is the ability to RELAX and have a single focus: totally blank everything out. THIS is VERY difficult but mastering that skill makes it easy to get in the "zone" at meets and replicate what you did in mental practices. It took me about 2 weeks to get to that "blank" ability: I spent those days on the floor in a dark room (sounds like my soph yr in college!) totally focusing on my breathing- feel the stomach rise on inhale and fall on exhale.
After that was done the routine went to breathing work for relaxation and focus, then "seeing" me throw with flawless technique. I started using music as a "white noise" to make blanking out easier: Pink Floyd's "Animals" got the nod because of minimal singing (the barking dogs and mooing cows did cause some distractions). At first this was not too easy- particular parts of the throw I needed to improve were not clearly visual- I didn't yet know how it looked. This improved with time and film study of top throwers: understanding how long throws were produced made it easier for me to "see" me doing it right. Later I got good enough to be able to "see" me throwing at different sites of my meets: U of Tenn, NC State, UPenn, etc, so it was easy to reproduce the feelings at the meets that I had in visualization (my longest throws were at those 3 sites). Eventually I got so good at visualization would be sore from those sessions as if I had actually thrown: I was sweating, had muscle twitches, etc. There was a bit of a Pavlovian Response as well- I listened in meet warm-ups and practice sessions to the same music I used in visualization sessions.
I think this helped me more than anything physical I did. It helped me develop a movement pattern from thousands of "reps" w/out the time it may normally take: I could "throw" several hundred times a session in 40 minutes.
It very worthwhile, but I wonder how many athletes today have the desire and will to go thru the hours needed to master it.....most people can't stand waiting for a post to download from here. Can you take the time to relax and really do this properly?