I practice martial arts (Aikido), which involves a lot of rotation.
When practicing, I find that holding an abstract image in my head, instead of thinking about the actual technique, improves my performance of the technique.
For example, when rotation is required, my mental image is essentially a vertical spiral pulled tight in the middle (as if constrained by a belt), in that one comes in to the axis of rotation and must stay on it before moving off into the rest of the technique.
The question, then is:
What explains why an abstract mental image can improve adherence to an ideal set of movements?
And, can this be explained neuro-biologically and, if yes, how?
(I suspect that the two questions have similar, if not the same, answers - hence why I've included both instead of separating them)
If you prefer to not answer those questions, believe that I should be answering these myself, or believe that this is not high-enough quality for CogSci (I apologize for any improper terminology), please offer a direction in which I can start my research into this phenomena, as at the moment I am at a loss for where to begin.