Modernization of equipment as well as extension of competition schedules and programs that have taken place over the past few decades have dramatically influenced professional activities of cross-country skiers. In particular, acuteness of competitive struggle has extremely increased and as a result psychological preparation of an athlete has become a very important and sometimes crucial factor.
Today, cross-country skiing is one of the most demanding sports associated with critical aerobic loading and cyclic explosive contractions involving all main muscle groups. Characteristic motor activity is highly uniform and automatic that potentially leads to negative psychological states decreasing motor efficiency. Athlete’s high motivation is the main tool to withstand this phenomenon. Muscles arbitrary relaxation rate (ARR) is considered to be the most important parameter of contractive activity. ARR is determined by the function of CNS inhibitory systems and decreased during emotional stress, which can be managed using respective psychological skills training (PST) features. Such interrelationship allows to reveal complex systemic links between various types of training and introduces the problem of the appropriate integration of PST into the entire training system. Available research data suggest that self-talk and mental imagery are quite useful as PST tools without regard to a skier’s level of expertise. Based on an individual interpretation for summarized data the author posed the following hypothesis: conversion from automatically executed to consciously controlled components of activity is involved to functionality of mental imagery; the conversion efficiency can be enhanced by means of attitude of intentional search for such components during visualization.
This article describes the connections between the use of types of mental imagery by athletes and the level of their imagination. Basing on the model of imagery use proposed by K.Martin, S. Moritz and C.Hall the authors used a Russian version of "The Sport Imagery Questionnaire" (SIQ) with soccer players 8, 10 and 14 years old. The data shows that subjects with a higher level of imagination are more inclined to use mental imagery in their practice; the age differences in types of imagery usage are shown.