The Virtues of Visualization
By Greg Bach
Before diving into the drills at her youth volleyball practices, Vicki Brown would have her teen athletes relax, close their eyes and visualize the session.
Her pre-practice ritual snagged the kids’ attention, dialed them into the work ahead and led to more productive and efficient time on the court.
“I’m very much into visualization,” says Brown, who was a standout performer at the University of Illinois and now is the head women’s volleyball coach at the University of Iowa. “So I would tell them the practice plan and have them see themselves going through the practice.”
Brown, who coached 14- and 15-year-olds in Ohio, was known for her innovative youth practices that delivered results.
And she found that having the kids visualize their positioning for each drill ramped up their concentration and led to stronger performances.
“It was understanding that they were often coming from school and maybe eating in the car on the way so there was a lot happening before we started practice,” Brown says. “So by visualizing it allowed them to see the practice and know what it was all about that day and it gave them that transition time from whatever they were doing before getting there to now where I got their full focus once we started.”
As volunteer coaches of all sports know, practice time is valuable and often limited once the season is under way.
So, maximizing those moments with players is critical for learning and development.
“At the club level we only had two or three practices a week, so time was very valuable and very limited,” Brown says. “So we had to be very strategic on what we were getting them to work on.”
And it all began with seeing it in their mind and then translating it to the court.
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