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Visualization and free throws: The effects of visualization on free throw shooting performance

1 August 2005


This study describes and assesses the impact that visualization has on free throw shooting percentages often varsity high school female basketball athletes. Their performance was evaluated through statistical data and analysis of free throw percentages over the course of an academic year and a summer basketball season, thus Spanning the course of about a five-month period of time. Athletes began the season practicing free throws without visualization. Within two weeks of the initial start of team practice, athletes were given information on how to use visualization to implement in conjunction with physical practice and be able to use visualization absent of physical practice. Finally athletes were broken up into three groups during the summer season and given the task of shooting free throws with physical practice only, mental visualization only, and no practice at all. The summer study was implemented to determine whether or not the in-season data and provide clarifying analysis. The purpose of this qualitative study was to address the following research questions: I) How does visualization effect free throw shooting percentage? 2) How do players utilize visualization to prepare for performance? 3) What benefits or hindrances do players experience by using visualization? 4) What observations do players have about the value of visualization? 5) Does visualization need to be accompanied by physical practice in order to be most effective? This study took place in a high school located in the suburbs of a major city on the West Coast of the United States. The athletes in this study were female high school varsity basketball players ranging in age from 14 to 18 years. Data was collected through several means including physical practice, observation, surveys, and performance statistics. The study concluded that visualization, although less helpful than physical practice alone, did heighten player self-confidence in free throw shooting performance and increased player performance when used in conjunction with physical practice.


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