Visualisation is the process of running through an action or scenario mentally. It is imagining yourself doing something perfectly, like a mental rehearsal.
Visualisation has been studied by psychologists and has been proven to be almost as effective at actually practicing the thing you want to do, without practicing! The visualisation can create muscle memories without you having to do as much actual practice.
For example, Australian psychologist Alan Richardson took some students and divided them into three groups with the intention of improving their basketball hoop shooting skills. The first group practiced free throws for 20 days straight. The second group practiced once on the first day and once on the last day. The third group also practiced once on the first day and once on the last day, but in addition also visualised for 20 minutes every day visualising their throws.
On the twentieth day Richardson measured each group’s improvement. The first group that had practiced for real improved 24%. The second group that had only practice on the first and last days didn’t improve. The third group the practiced twice, but also visualised every day, improved 23% which is almost as good as the group that practiced for real.
Using visualisation to improve your driving skills
Based on the above experiment this means that it is quite feasible for you to use visualisation to improve your driving skills, particularly for the types of manoeuvres that new drivers tend to find hard like reversing around a corner and parallel parking. You could also use visualisation to be more calm and relaxed in the car while you are taking your test.
To do a visualisation you need to find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted. Expect that your mind will wander a bit until you have practiced visualising a while.
Sit down and close your eyes. Take a moment to relax.
Now you need to see yourself sitting in the car, holding the steering wheel. Try to feel what it’s like in there, including where your feet are on the pedals, what’s around you, what the dashboard looks like, what the gear stick feels like, and so on.
Now imagine that you carry out the manoeuvre that you’re having problems with, but you do it perfectly.
That’s it – you’ve visualised it. But doing it once won’t make much difference. You will have to do it quite a few times – spend a good 10-20 minutes in one session imagining two or three different scenarios or variations of the same scenario.
You’ve also entered the ranks of people who have used visualisation for success which includes Arnold Schwarzenegger who said, “Before I won my first Mr. Universe title, I walked around the tournament like I owned it. I had won it so many times in my mind, the title was already mine. Then when I moved on to the movies I used the same technique. I visualised daily being a successful actor and earning big money.”
You can apply these techniques to your driving skills, and you can also add other techniques such as affirmations to make them even stronger.