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Recommendations for Combining Action Observation and Motor Imagery Interventions in Sport

Wright, DJ, Frank, C and Bruton, AM (2021) Recommendations for Combining Action Observation and Motor Imagery Interventions in Sport. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action. ISSN 2152-0704

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Abstract

Combined action observation and motor imagery (AOMI) interventions involve observing a movement demonstration, usually via video, whilst at the same time imagining the feelings and sensations involved in executing the observed action. Research findings indicate that AOMI interventions can be effective for improving sport performance, yet no guidelines currently exist within the literature to inform applied sport psychologists how to develop and implement AOMI interventions with athletes. The aim of this article is to address this gap in the applied sport psychology literature. Accordingly, the article provides an overview of the ‘Science of AOMI’ by discussing the neurophysiological, cognitive, psychological and performance effects of AOMI interventions to introduce the concept of AOMI and potential benefits of AOMI interventions in sport. The article then covers the ‘Practice of AOMI’ by discussing practical recommendations for applied sport psychologists on how to develop and implement AOMI interventions for performance enhancement purposes. Important considerations related to filming the action observation video are discussed, such as selection of the model and choice of visual perspective. Guidelines are then provided for developing and delivering personalized kinesthetic imagery instructions for use by the athlete in synchrony with action observation.

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