Armchair Athletes

Two things that have been mentioned by Knicks players and coaches alike are that the newly assembled roster needs practice and that the team needs rest.  Having already played 72 regular season games, the need for rest is obvious.  But with new starting point guard Chauncey Billups and new forward Carmelo Anthony trying to learn the Knicks’ offensive and defensive sets, the need for practice is obvious, too.  And the “old” Knicks need to get familiar with the “new” Knicks and vice versa.

With a need for time off and a need for time on, how can the Knicks get the rest that they need to play well through the end of the regular season while getting enough practice so they can finish strong and maybe steal a round in the playoffs?  It seems the time has come for the Knicks to become “armchair athletes”.

No, this isn’t a suggestion that they grab pizza and beer and watch the Yankees and Mets on television.  It’s a suggestion that they use visualization to replace some of their on court practice time.  The benefits of visualization were proved decades ago in a university study which showed a combined physical practice/mental practice regimen was almost as good as physical practice alone.  Free throw shooters who shot 100 free throws a day improved 22% by the end of the study while those who shot 50 and visualized 50 improved 21%.

I’ve long thought that using visualization while rehabbing from an injury would allow the player to more quickly get his game back and fit into the rotation more quickly when rehab was done and it’s an easy study to set up.  But the Knicks need something now and visualization should do the trick.  Instead of listing the steps here, I’ve also posted an article on visualization that I wrote for Teen Performance Magazine.  It’s called “5 Steps to Faster Sports Mastery”.  You can go straight to the numbered list in the article to get suggestions on how to best visualize.  There’s more information on the free throw study there as well.

Adding visualization to their repertoire, the Knicks can increase their practice time while decreasing their physical exertion.  They can try practicing 2/3 on court, 1/3 visualizing and adjust towards ½ and ½ or 1/3 on court, 2/3 visualizing as they gauge their results.  They can get some “practice time” while they’re flying to another city for the second game of a back-to-back.  And on days off, the players can spend some quiet time running their movies in their heads and getting better while giving their bodies the rest that they need.

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