Anthony Watson has revealed he visualised the precise details of his classy finish against Wales during the build-up to England’s Guinness Six Nations victory in Cardiff.
Watson’s first England start in two years was decorated with a crucial 19th-minute try that saw him gather Alex Dombandt’s long pass and leap into the corner, touching down while in mid-air.
It was a sweet moment for the 29-year-old Leicester wing after a serious knee injury, followed by minor calf, hamstring and thigh niggles, placed his career on hold upon returning from the 2021 Lions tour to South Africa.
Remarkably, he envisioned his comeback score during one of the 20-minute meditation-like sessions that he has scheduled into his match-day preparation for almost a decade.
“I was pretty nervous before the game. It felt like a long journey back – almost felt like a first cap,” Watson said.
“I don’t really judge my quality of games by tries but to be able to score in the corner was nice and something I had spent a lot of the week visualising.
“It’s weird how it happened exactly how I had pictured it. It was literally in that corner because I was playing on the left wing and it was finishing with the ball in my right hand in that kind of style.
“The power of visualisation is so important, I have scored tries when it has ended up exactly how I had it in my head.
“Visualisation is how I try to calm myself down before games. I go into lot of detail with it, it depends on what comes into my head at the time.
“It starts off with just what it would look like from a bird’s eye view and then what it would feel like for me.
“It puts me in good stead for what lies ahead and calms me. Those periods of visualisation are the only time I think about the game. I do it on my own and if you saw me doing it you would probably think I look crazy!
“It’s a common thing to do now. There’s greater respect for the power of mental techniques to prepare for games. Everyone is different, it will be useful for some people and completely useless for others.
“I find it really helpful in terms of blocking out periods to think about the game and that allows me to be chilled out and do whatever I want to do outside of that.”
Watson works with Don Macpherson and among the renowned British mind coach’s former clients was Brazilian Formula One great Ayrton Senna.
“Don said that Ayrton Senna’s mind was in the corner ahead while his body was on the current corner,” Watson said.
“That was something that resonated with me about trying to be one step ahead, trying to see a break before there is a break and being anticipatory for things that might happen.”