John Walsh Human Givens

9 Griffith Ave, Marino,

Dublin 9

Mobile: 087 2596938

Telephone : 01 8530754


Tuesday 03rd, August





Visualisation- from couch to field of play.


Anyone interested in how to transfer practice to competition will have come across stories of how elite athletes mentally prepare.  Stories of the strategies used by golfers, sprinters, professional footballers and rugby placekickers abound. If we just imagine it – will that make it happen? Some popular psychology self-help books would have you believe that we can think ourselves rich and the cheques will start popping in the letterbox- not that easy I’m afraid.  However, visualisation, when used to image the realistic steps involved- the process rather than the outcome- does work.

What is Visualisation?

Visualisation is when we use our imagination to “see” ourselves performing skills or behaviours.  We do this all the time when we daydream. These daydreams can be helpful if positive or unhelpful when we worry or imagine events negatively.  It is a powerful trance like state of mind which can be used to accelerate helpful learning, improve mental and motor skills, increase confidence, motivation and mental toughness.

Does it work?

Firstly, ignore successful managers or sportspeople who ridicule visualisation.  They are either natural visualisation experts or you will find, somewhere in their history, powerful figures who inspired them to dream, and laid out all the steps required to realise that dream.  I instance a national football great, following in a line of familial greats, who was ridiculing sports psychologists.  He later described the family psychologist, his grandmother, who prepared them from infants on every all-Ireland match day.  She marched them around the table and told them they were marching behind the Artane Boys Band in Croke Park.  She described the whole scene in vivid detail and finished off with them climbing the steps to receive the winner’s cup. Teams and individuals can succeed without visualisation, but success comes quicker and easier with it.

How does visualisation work?

Visualisation works by setting goals in the mind for the body to match.  It is like laying down the tracks of the desired outcome in imagination before completing the journey in practice.  At a basic level, it is goal setting.  Goals need to be positive, achievable and orientated to getting emotional needs met. Visualisation is a trance state, where behaviours and skills are mentally imagined in detailed steps.  This has a major advantage over physical practice- no errors - perfect practice.


Anecdotal evidence comes from all the successful individuals and managers who admit that they use visualisation as a vital part of their preparation.  Real physical evidence comes from brain imaging research on the motor area of the brain in subjects who have trained using visualisation methods.  Participants who trained new skills by only imagining the steps and process involved for 90% of their training, and then spent the remaining 10% physically learning the skill, outperformed those who physically learned the skill only.  These research findings have been repeated over and over on a wide variety of skills and tasks.  Visualisation alone physically alters the brain to facilitate skill performance. 

Where does it fit in?

Visualisation is now an integral part of successful individual and team preparation. This does not replace talent, variable and extensive practice, nutrition and a positive knowledgeable coaching, but rather enhances these contributions.

How do I do it?

Daydream, using all then senses, using realistic steps to attain manageable goals. Visualisation is a skill, easily coached which can become second nature over time.  Consider making an appointment with John Walsh who is a Consultant Psychotherapist in Human Givens therapy. John is a passionate and experienced sports coach. To make an appointment or talk with John, call 087 2596938.



Contact John


Why choose John ?

John has over 25 years experience working with individuals and groups to acieve a productive, fulfilled and sustainable lifestyle. He is a parent of 5 children, has established and managed successful businesses in education, engineering and property sectors and is an experienced business and sports coach....


Read More>>


John Walsh Human Given

9 Griffith Ave,


Dublin 9

Mobile : 087 259 6938
Telephone : 01 853 0754


E :

Click to view