Imagining a Mental Picture of Muscle Movements and Actions Described by a Coach or Gym Teacher

When a coach or gym teacher explains a physical activity or movement, it is important for students to imagine a mental picture of that motor activity or movement before trying to do it. Students must first listen to the verbal instructions, and then, translate those instructions into a visual picture of what their muscles need to do. This involves both paying attention to what the coach is saying and understanding the explanation. Once a student has created a mental image of what the motor activity will look like when put into action, she can plan her movements to match the image in her mind.

Helpful Hints

  • While explaining a physical activity, model the steps students will need to do.  
  • Allow the student to practice the steps, for example, kicking or throwing motions, as they are being modeled.  
  • Have students explain movement instructions to another student using their own words.  
  • Color code in sports activities to provide directional assistance. For example, use green, blue, and red mats at the bases on the baseball field.  
  • Allow a student to say required steps aloud while doing a motor activity, if it aids his ability to remember or perform actions.  
  • You may encourage the student to move from vocalizations to whispers to sub-vocalizations when comfortable.  
  • Vary the nature of students’ gross motor experiences, including traditional gross motor activities (soccer, basketball, swimming), non-traditional activities (hiking, martial arts, canoeing, aerobic exercise and dance), and non-athletic activities (music, art, manual crafts and construction activities, dramatic arts, gardening).