Ep.2 | Mental Imaging with Dr. Krista Chandler

Coach Andy discusses how to mentally rehearse success with University of Windsor’s Dr. Krista Chandler. Learn how to improve the mental side of the game using visualization and imagery on and off the ice.

Show Notes and Resources

Dr. Krista Chandler, University of Windsor

Dr. Krista Chandler has been a undergraduate/graduate faculty member at the University of Windsor in since 1999. As evidenced by her many publications and experience as a certified fitness instructor, Dr. Chandler has skillfully bridged the gap between theory and the applied practice of sport and exercise psychology. Her work is extensive, being featured in scholarly journals such as The Sport Psychologist, European Journal of Sport Sciences, Exercise and Sport Science Review, and The Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. In addition to her research, Dr. Chandler works with athletes of all ages, levels, and sport in helping them achieve their personal performance goals.
For more on Dr. Chandler’s work visit the University of Windsor website!

Dr. Chandler starts this discussion by explaining mental toughness. She introduces “the 4 C’s” – Control, Commitment, Challenge, and Confidence – as metrics for measuring mental toughness as an athlete.

Control – Do I feel as though I have control? Do I have control over my emotions? This can be as simple as a player on another team chirping me, or not getting the ice I feel I deserve.

Commitment – Am I driving to excel towards a goal both on and off the ice? In practice, and in competition?

Challenge – Can I overcome the challenge I am confronted with? Can I overcome that obstacle to continue pursuing my goal?

Confidence – Do I understand my abilities and trust in them? Can I rely on myself to use these abilities?

Thinking in this way, it becomes easier to target where we may be deficient, and work to improve our mental toughness in each area. Dr. Chandler explains that we are not born with mental toughness, but we work towards. By implementing the 4 C’s in our own lives, we will have markers to indicate our level of mental toughness and can improve on it as a skill.

Dr. Chandler moves on to explain imagery as it relates to mental toughness. She outlines the discrepancies between visualization and imagery, as concepts. Visualization is often conflated with imagery, despite its limiting implication of using sight alone. As athletes we don’t only see; we feel, smell, hear and have emotions. Imagery differs in this way as it includes all of our available sensory inputs. Dr. Chandler uses imagery with her athletes, beginning with visualization, but moving deeper to include other senses and emotions that make the experience more vivid and impactful.

Referencing the work of many in her field, Dr. Chandler explains the research showing that the more people use imagery, the more elite they become. There is a documented relationship between the level of the athlete, and the frequency of their imagery practice. With this in mind, Dr. Chandler goes through techniques to become better in imagery by implementing small sessions of 5-10 minutes, three times per week.

These strategies have also been proven effective to reduce stress and anxiety by creating a level of familiarity in the mind. Generating a vivid picture of stressful situations helps the brain adapt and become more comfortable with uncertain situations. Many athletes experience stress before training and competition due to the unknown and lack of control. By implementing an imagery practice, athletes can take back control of their mind by introducing a level of familiarity and comfort with their future.

Dr Chandler concludes by giving strategies for coaches and parents to create good mental images to help increase player confidence.

Enjoy this episode with Dr. Krista Chandler!