“It’s crazy what the mind can do.”
That’s how USA National Team soccer player Carli Lloyd described the circumstances of her hat trick against Japan in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final. There is no bigger stage in soccer than the World Cup. Within 16 minutes of the championship match, Lloyd put herself into the history books.
In the 3rd minute of the game, Megan Rapinoe hit a low cross on a corner kick that Lloyd redirected into the net with her left foot. In the 5th minute, another cross off a free kick landed in the 6-yard box with Lloyd beating Japanese defenders to the ball and burying it into the goal.
And then the coup de grace.
In the 16th minute, Lloyd gathered the ball inside the centerline circle and dribbled past a Japanese player. As she reached the centerline Lloyd noticed the Japan goalie well off her line. Without hesitating, Lloyd drove a shot from 60 yards away and watched it sail just over the fingertips of the scrambling keeper.
Lloyd’s spectacular third goal capped off her hat trick. Lloyd’s amazing performance propelled the United States to capture the gold medal in a 5-2 victory over Japan.
But here’s the thing. Lloyd’s goals had already been scored before the match even began.
At the post-match press conference, Lloyd described a workout she had in the period right before the World Cup. “It was just my headphones and me at the field…I just completely zoned out. I dreamed of, and visualized, playing in a World Cup final, and visualized scoring four goals.”
Okay, she only scored three.
All kidding aside, what Lloyd did was employ the practice of visualization. Visualization is simply creating a mental image of a future event and what you hope to achieve. By doing this, you are already seeing the success in advance and imprinting it into your brain. Lloyd visualized seeing herself scoring goals in a World Cup final and so when she was there, in her brain’s eye, the goals had already been scored.
Visualization can also be a mindset. Do you imagine yourself as a powerful force? Or, do you look in the mirror and see someone who is destined to lose? The regular practice of visualizing victories in your dreams can start helping them happen in your real life.