In 1967, Australian psychologist Alan Richardson conducted an experiment with free throw shooting.
In his report, Mental Practice, A Review And Discussion, he described his visualization experiment.
A class of non-basketball players were divided into 3 groups and tested on their free throw shooting abilities.
After their original results were recorded, the 3 groups were given instructions for the next 20 days.
Group 1…had to practice for 20 minutes a day.
Group 2…did not practice at all.
Group 3…was told to shoot “imaginary” successful free throws only (no real practice) once a day.
At the end of the 20 days, the 3 groups were tested again. They shot free throws and these were the results:
Group 1…improved 24%.
Group 2…did not improve.
Group 3…improved 23%!
This showed that mental practice was almost as good as the physical practice in terms of improvement.
A similar study was done at the Australian Catholic University in 1999 and found similar results. Actual practice is necessary for improving your shooting skills, but mental practice and visualization can lead to improvement.
These are only a couple examples of the power that your mind has for helping your performance.
Adding this type of mental practice should be a part of every player’s game to help you become a better shooter.
If you’ve never done anything like this before, you can start to add it in slowly with simple drills…like the Westhead Drill…that will help you visualize your mechanics and build up your focus and concentration.
Check out more drills in the Mental Drills section to find other ways to train your mind to use mental imagery.