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Do You See What I See? How the Images We See Affect Our Performance.

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Mindset Made Simple Tip #115 – Do You See What I See? Watch or listen HERE.

Am I the only one who has a hard time keeping track of the needle needed to inflate balls?

As we were heading to a party this weekend, I grabbed a football to take with us, but it was flat.

I went to my toolbox in the garage to grab my inflation needle, but it wasn’t in its place. I immediately began pulling up images in my mind of where I may have seen it last. I pictured the shelf on the other side of the garage, the end of the air compressor and the manual bike pump.

I found it without much trouble. I pride myself on things having their place and knew it had to be one of a few places.

Yes, this simple task got me thinking about the power of our brain and how it affects our performance (doesn't everything come back to that?).

The fact that I immediately went to MIND MOVIES to find a needle in a preverbal haystack made me wonder, does everyone go there – to mental images - for similar solutions to problems? Does everyone remember where they wrote something on a notepad so they can remember the answer to a question on a test or recall a fact needed for a future presentation? (this was my M.O. in college. “I know I wrote that in the side margin, what did it say?” In comes the mental image…fingers crossed it is accurate 😊!

I find I use mental images A TON and I bet if you think about it, you do too!

We can quickly recreate the images that make us smile and those that make us cringe.

The question is, which ones will we choose to relive?

The next question is, which ones make us better?

When former MLB star Manny Ramirez was in Cleveland, I would not have pegged him as a meticulous thinker. In fact, he was a liability in the outfield and his laissez-faire trots to 1st base drove me nuts (as someone who had her team sprint back to their positions after every out). And, unfortunately, Manny’s decisions were not always good ones – which ended his career!

Even so, what I didn’t know what how disciplined Ramirez was in his pregame rituals and mental rehearsal of the game. Manager Don Mattingly once said that Ramirez kept it simple and thought “see the ball and stay through the middle. But he knows how to turn those thoughts into action."

He knows how to turn those thoughts into action because he watched himself do it time and time again. Before a game, Ramirez was known to watch videos of himself hitting shot after shot after shot.

After one such pregame video session, a former teammate asked him why he never looked at the at bats in which he failed in these sessions to see if he could improve them and, thus, avoid them in the upcoming game. Ramirez responded by asking why he would ever want to watch himself fail before the game. He went on to tell his teammate to feel free to watch himself strike out, but he was choosing to take his great at bats into the game with him and his plan was to recreate them.

He chooses to watch good videos. He chooses to relive good memories. He chooses to see himself act the way he wants to act in the future!

If I can recreate images to remember where I last saw my inflation needle with vivid detail, what other images am I conjuring up that affect how I see things…about myself and my performance… and which images will I choose when I need to be my best?

Like Ramirez, we need to ask ourselves which shots are we going to choose to remember when we stand at the plate, over the ball or in front of the goal.

It’s pretty easy to determine which will prime our brains for better performance. But those pesky bad performances have a way of popping up when we need them the least!

We, too, get to choose! We may not have the luxury of watching great play after great play on a video screen, but we all have the ability to use the video screen in our mind’s eye to recreate whatever images we want, for better or worse!

I got to experience this in action last night as one of my clients, took the time to relive her HIGHLIGHT REEL. This highlight reel has no video. However, she did watch a few of the plays her dad had posted on Facebook as she was thinking about her personal ESPN Top 10 plays for this homework assignment (a bonus for her mind’s eye).

Madison has been struggling as a player. Her most recent images of her performance are ones Manny would avoid like the plague. But the simple act of writing down the best plays of her career reminded her of her power on the field, the pride she feels in her game, the contributions she has made to her team and her love of competition…all feelings that have taken a back seat to fear, frustration and disappointment.

As she was sharing highlights 1 through 10 with me, we pulled out themes, we talked about the benefits of reliving the good stuff and most importantly, she was seeing these images…of being in control…as she shared all these great plays with me…and with her memory bank!

Now it’s her job to choose. Will she choose to watch the Madison who is struggling to trust herself or the Madison that has found a ton of success? Will she prime her brain with what she wants to repeat or fill it with what she is trying to avoid…keeping in mind that whichever she chooses will be the images she sees in her head right before the next pitch, play or pass?

Our brain is frustrating! It hangs on to mistakes longer than is helpful because it is designed to sense a threat to keep us safe.

Our brain is also amazing! It can recreate images so real that they register as actual actions or events.

With this dichotomy in mind, we must direct our amazingly frustrating brain to benefit our performance by choosing the images that make us better.

Is it helping you to relive that missed attempt or will the next shot be better served by Manny’s approach?

Relive your highlight reel…or allow the blooper reel to haunt you?

You get to choose!

Manage the moments and have a great week!


P.S. Mental training tools make a difference. Contact me at any time to talk about how we can help your athletes through my 5 Minute Mindset™ program and customized team sessions to help them make the most out of the opportunities in front of them! Email me at or call/text 234-206-0946.

Julie Jones

Mental Performance & Mindset Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946

Photo by Jade Hewitt, Courtesy USA Softball

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