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In this experiment, differences in the temporal organization of routines in artistic gymnastics executed under mental and physical conditions were examined. Twelve elite female gymnasts performed their floor routines mentally, then performed the same routines physically. On each of three days, the performance was filmed, and the durations of the mental and actual routines were timed. The results showed that mental movement times were shorter than physical routine times. It was concluded that the speed of visualization depends on the situation in which the gymnasts visualize as well as on the function that the athlete attributes to the use of imagery. We observed a trend when comparing the different stages of the relative duration of mental and actual routines. If confirmed, we hypothesized that the lengthening of the relative duration of certain stages under mental conditions could be linked to the perceived difficulty of the gymnastics elements.
Claire Calmels and Jean Fournier are with the Laboratoire de psychologie du sport at the Institut National du Sport et de l’Education Physique, 11 Avenue du Tremblay, 75012, Paris, France.