8 guidelines for making your “Personal Highlight Reel” (Part 2)

Coaches often tell an athlete to visualize however they often fail to instruct the athlete on the how to, the most important part. The following LEAD (Love, Effort, Attitude, Discipline) blog takes 8 guidelines from the book, “10 Minute Toughness” by Dr. Jason Selk (Director of Mental Training for the St Louis Cardinals) to help coaches and athletes utilize visualization in hopes of improving their performance, however can be applied to any discipline. If you missed Part one of the series, please go back and review it to give you a better reference point.

Guideline 1: Choose One of three camera angles- When you picture yourself performing a skill you will see it one of three different ways. Angle one: You watch the mental video as if the camera is in the stands recording someone other than you performing the skill. Angle two: You are watching the mental video as if the camera angle was in the stands filming as you perform the skill. Angle three: You watch the mental video as if your eyes are the camera lens (Visualization from any camera angle is helpful, but angle three is the most beneficial).

Guideline 2: Pay Attention to Detail- The more detail you pack into your mental video, the more realistic and beneficial it is. Pay attention to at least three of the five senses. As you picture yourself throwing a TD pass, what does it sound like? Can you hear the roar of the crowd or your teammates celebrating with you? How cool does it feel when you strike out their cleanup hitter to win the came? Before attempting a PR weight lift, can you feel the bar in your hands? These will all help you perform the whatever it is you wish to achieve.

Guideline 3: Frequent and Brief is the ticket- Visualizing many times for short stints is far more effective that one long session. Try visualizing before each play. What do you need to do in order to achieve personal victory. What is your job? See it, Do!

Guideline 4:Visualize from beginning to end- Make sure to view the skill or action in its entirety.

Guideline 5: Emotionally Feel the way you want to feel- This is something I had never tried before. I had always seen myself performing well, however I failed to think about how awesome it would feel to absolutely crush it. If you were to execute the best performance in the history of your life, how would that make you feel? Now Go!

Guideline 6: Replay until you get it right- Each time you visualize, focus on what it takes for success as well as seeing the successful outcome. If you are having difficulty, simply pretend your mind is a DVD player: press stop and start over!

Guideline 7: Give credit where credit is due- A lot of successful athletes are perfectionists in the sense that when they do well, they write it off as a personal expectation, and when they do poorly, they chastise themselves for their failures…if athletes do not learn to recognize when they have done something well, discouragement is inevitable.

Guideline 8: Operate at game speed- Always visualize at the desired speed prior to the physical performance. Chances are you want to push weight or play fast. Explode, Power, Speed. Be a rocket ship! (In a high impact sport like football, maybe you need to see yourself performing slower. To each his own).


Coach Nelson serves as a high school football coach who is pursuing his doctorate in Sport and Performance Psychology. He has worked for division 1 athletic departments, professional sport franchises, a Fortune 100 Company and has won numerous awards for his LEADership abilities.

His mission is to positively influence the world through Love, Effort, Attitude and Discipline (#LEAD). To learn more about the LEAD philosophy follow him on Twitter Levi Nelson or reach out via email at rln10@zips.uakron.edu He’d love to learn about or help you in your journey!