Imagining yourself doing techniques is almost as important as physically doing them.

I'm a big believer in visualization. As a competitor, I often imagined myself in various randori and contest situations. Playing these scenes in my mind allowed me to envision the things I can do to throw my opponent or defeat them on the ground.

Of course it would be good to be able to do actual drills with a live partner but most of us don't live in countries where judo is very popular and so the opportunity to train as often as we'd like is just not there.

Visualization is the next best thing to actually doing the techniques. You can work on the techniques in your mind and it will help to generate "muscle memory".

Obviously when you repeat a move over and over again, your body gets used to that movement, and when you do it enough times, it becomes second nature. That's basically what muscle memory refers to.

Well, if we can't physically do that many repetitions due to lack of training partners, there's no limit to how many times we can do them in our mind: against static ukes, moving ukes, randori situations, content situations, and so on.

If you take visualization serious, these won't feel like silly games. They will feel very real, as if you were doing those moves in real life. And the benefits you'll get from them will be very real.

When my players are doing some footwork drills with sticks, I always remind them: "Don't view these sticks as sticks but as the legs of your opponent. When doing the footwork, imagine they are your partner's legs. And when you do the attack, imagine actually taking them down.

I remind them to engage in visualization because if they do it properly and earnestly, it will help improve their game considerably. I know it has helped me become a better judoka.

It's something I still do today, although less so than during my time as a competitor (where I was thinking about judo all the time... these days I just think about judo most of the time). I find it particularly useful when I'm trying to master a new move or some kind of variation of an existing technique.