See Yourself Winning - Right Now!

Action can follow thought.

A few years back, Dr. Blaslotto at the University Of Chicago conducted a study with the aim to examine how visualization can affect performance.

Here’s how things went:

A group of basketball players took part in the study, measuring their percentage of successful free throws vs. shots taken. They started by testing their initial free-throw success rates as a baseline for future comparison.

Next, the players were randomly assigned to one of three testing groups. Here's what they were, and how they trained:

1. This group did nothing, and were told to completely forget about playing basketball.
2. The second group spent an hour each day on the basketball court training their free throws.
3. The final group played no basketball during the study, the same as group 1, but they were told to spend time visualizing shooting successful free throws.

And now, guess what happened after 30 days of training like this (or not training if you were in group 1)?

As likely expected, group 1 showed no improvements.

Group 2, who worked on the court, did show a respectable 24% improvement in their success rate.

And most importantly, the third group who only visualized their practice, improved by 23%.

Success From Self-Confidence

I think your take home message from this study is to practice positive mental imaging along with your on-bike training.

Success grows largely from your self-confidence, as well as your physical preparations. When we've all trained ourselves to be almost equally strong, with only a few handfuls of seconds separating us in, say, Time Trial standings, then it is usually the bike racers with strong self-confidence that rise to the top.

Self-confidence certainly rises when you have actual race successes to rely on. However, as this study with basketball players proves, when on-bike success is lacking - and maybe it's just because you're new at this and don't have many races under your tires - then start seeing yourself winning races, making that decisive race move, right now, today, every day, and you could be on your way to handfuls of your own podium finishes.

Go To The Movies

Another great way to start building a race winning mindset is to watch bike racing in action. Go to your local races, especially criteriums, and watch how the elite riders make their race winning moves. And better still, pick up some bike racing videos, like any of the Tour de France volumes, and see how the pros pull off stage winning moves. (Here's a handy link to get you started at Amazon: bike racing DVDs.)

Soon you'll have the successful images in your mind. All you need to do is some mental Photoshopping, and paste yourself into the winning pictures.


  1. WooHoo! So I'm not a freak when I convince myself that the last climb on my commute home is actually a big solo finish at the end of a mountain stage.

  2. Kevin,

    Thanks for an instructive post. I especially enjoyed reading the study done with basketball players.

    My nephew just graduated from high school and earned a basketball scholarship for college. I'll pass this on to him.