MENTAL REHEARSAL is the secret weapon of Olympic Athletes, Special Operations warriors from around the globe, world class competitors, and YOU.
In the last 3 chapters of this e-book, we’ve covered the fundamentals of training, the importance of dry fire, and how to properly use airsoft as a turbocharged version of dry fire.
The next set of skills that we’re going to cover may be the most important of all. You can do them in your car at stoplights, in bed as you’re going to sleep at night, or even as a way to stay awake during a meeting at work. It’s mental rehearsal. When I say “mental rehearsal” I’m specifically talking about envisioning a situation where you are going to engage a target with your firearm and going through it in your mind from start to finish. This may include backing up parts of the sequence like you would rewind a video, repeating sections, and even visualizing yourself in the 3rd person and going through the motion and imagining what you would look like if you had a camera filming you from various angles.
In case you have any doubts about the value of mental training, I want to tell you about four groups of Soviet Olympians who competed in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Group 1 spent 100% of their time doing physical training.
Group 2 spent 75% of their time doing physical training and 25% doing mental training.
Group 3 spent 50% of their time doing physical training and 50% doing mental training.
Group 4 spent 25% of their time doing physical training and 75% doing mental training.
You can probably guess that group 4 did best by the simple fact that I’m including the story, but the amazing part is that group 3 did 2nd best and the group that did 100% physical training did WORST.
And then, shortly thereafter in 1983, a study was done at the University of North Carolina where basketball players improved their free throw shooting ability by 7% by simply visualizing themselves using perfect form and hitting every shot.
These weren’t isolated incidents. Since then, Olympic athletes, professional athletes, special operations teams, and SWAT teams have used mental rehearsal in combination with physical training to dramatically improve their performance over physical training alone.
In fact, a dramatic example of an Olympic athlete successfully using mental imagery is US diver Laura Wilkinson. Before the 2000 Olympics, Laura broke her leg and couldn’t dive for several weeks while her leg was healing. Instead, every day she’d climb up on the 10 meter board, shut her eyes, and go through her routine in her mind. When her cast came off and she started diving again for real, she was at almost the exact same place in her training and won a gold medal in Sydney.
Elite athletes use mental imagery because at the top levels of athletics, almost everyone is equal in their talent and physical abilities. The big difference is how strong they are mentally, how few mistakes they make, how they’re able to deal with adversity during competition, and how quickly they’re able to identify and capitalize on their opponents weaknesses and mistakes.
You can take advantage of these same benefits of mental imagery, but there are some additional benefits that are particularly important for individuals training to use a firearm to defend themselves in a lethal force encounter. You’ll quickly see other applications to martial arts training as well as almost any survival skill you can think of.
In an era of increasing regulation, mental training will always be legal…even in a Federal Building.
As far as operational security and privacy goes, mental imagery will never give you away to your friends and neighbors as a prepper.
Working through mistakes in mental training doesn’t “cost” as much as mistakes do in real life.
It’s free, fast, and you don’t have to clean your firearm afterwards.
You never need to find a willing “victim” to play a violent attacker and do it exactly the way you want them to.
You’re less likely to find obstacles to practicing a skill in your head than in real life. Bad weather doesn’t matter, illness doesn’t matter, traffic doesn’t matter, and finances don’t matter. The only obstacles for mental practice are internal.
Injuries don’t happen when you do mental training
Recovery times are shorter with mental training.
It is easier to practice perfect technique for 25 physical repetitions than it is for 100 physical repetitions due to physical exhaustion. The remaining 75 repetitions that you do in your mind can be done to perfection because you have a clear image/ memory of what the 25 perfect repetitions felt like.
You can do mental rehearsal while injured, sick, or separated from your firearm.
So, how do you do mental rehearsal? That’s a million dollar question, and the answer can get as complicated and involved as you’d like, although I’m going to help you shortcut a lot of the learning process and tell you the techniques that will give you the biggest bang for the buck.
I’ll give you some fundamentals that will help you quickly enjoy the major benefits of mental rehearsal. I say that because the topic of mental rehearsal gets incredibly involved once you move past the basic skills, and the marginal increase in effectiveness may mean the difference between silver and gold in Olympic level competition, most people will see incredible improvement by simply using the techniques that I’ll share with you here.