The paper is devoted to the theoretical and practical aspects of motor imagery widely used by athletes in a variety of sports as an effective psychological training method. The research introduces basic approaches, theories and modern views on the issue. There are a wide variety of views on the mechanisms underlying mental practice of motor tasks. In particular, mental image can be considered from exclusively cognitive perspective or as a direct and essential background for producing movement.
To signify the notion of mental image in specialist studies the terms «mental study» or «mental training» are used. The research devoted to this issue has significantly influenced the conceptual understanding of the motor image nature.
There are opposing theories, who employ the mental image that is regarded as a basic cognitive component and does not consist in direct interaction with the executive link of the motor system. On the other hand, there are theories that view the mental image as the immediate basis of the movement that stores information about all its parameters.
Modern studies, including neuroimaging methods, confirm inseparability of these approaches and central locale of trigger mechanism that modulates physiological reactions and also its generality for real and imaginary action.
In conclusion, taking into account recent data on the nature of motor imagery, special attention is paid to practical aspects of using it in sports, which is different from conventional approaches and recommendations on motor imagery use.