Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 5, 2020

The practice of imagery: a review of 25 Years of applied sport imagery recommendations

Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity

Frank O. Ely, Krista J. Munroe-Chandler, Jenny O and Penny McCullagh



The purpose of the current study was to explore the development of practical imagery recommendations in sport over the past 25 years.


Empirical journal articles (n=500) were reviewed to identify those that explored imagery in sport, contained original data, and provided practical recommendations for imagery use in applied practice (n=94). Further, a thematic analysis was employed to determine general (i.e., categories of recommendations) and specific (i.e., suggestion for applied practice) recommendations.


Seven distinct general recommendations were found for imagery use in sport with a variety of specific recommendations intended for applied practice. Further, a number of specific recommendations were found repeatedly across time while others increased in complexity over time.


The results of the current study suggest that the literature on applied imagery use in sport is well-developed, however, concerns regarding the adoption of practical recommendations do exist. Future directions for applied imagery researchers are also forwarded.

Corresponding author: Frank O. Ely, Kinesiology, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada, E-mail:

  1. Research funding: None declared.

  2. Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.

  3. Competing interests: Authors state no conflict of interest.


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Received: 2020-10-01
Accepted: 2020-10-13
Published Online: 2020-11-05

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