Use Imagery For a Good Mental Golf Game:
Use Imagery For a Good Mental Golf Game
Joan A. King, C.Ht., P.NLP
Bobby Jones, considered to be the greatest amateur golfer of all time was once quoted as saying, "Golf is 99% mental, and the other 1% is in your mind!"
Why is golf such a mental game?
In most sports, the body is trained to react to different situations because there is no time to stop, ponder choices, and make a decision. In golf, the ball waits for the golfer. The actual swing time for a 4-hour round of par golf is just a few minutes. This leaves more than three and one-half hours of time to think in-between shots. Thinking other thoughts and getting emotionally involved deters golfers from their focus of hitting the shot.
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point probably has the premier performance enhancement center in the world. There they train the cadets to perform on academic tests the same way they prepare to perform physically.
The cadets are taught the mental skills of:
Step 1. Goal Setting: What do you want to win? Design a map of your destination and which road you want to take to get there. Your intermediate goals could include swing goals, mental goals, imagery goals, nutrition goals, weight-training goals, and emotional goals.
- Goal Setting
- Stress Management
- Mental Rehearsal
Step 2. Imagery: Imagery is making a mental representation through the use of your senses. We all learn by processing information and stimuli through our five senses, which are seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling. The senses we use in golf are visual (seeing), auditory (voice, rhythm, balance), and kinesthetic (touch, feeling). If your dominant sense is visual, you will "see a line on the green", and learn the golf swing best by seeing it performed. If you are mainly auditory you will understand instruction best and be most confident by sensing the rhythm and tempo of the swing. If you process information kinesthetically, you will learn best when you can feel the swing or feel the break of the green through your body.
In your inner mind, use your imagery to sense yourself practising, playing, confident, calm and relaxed. See, hear and feel yourself accomplishing your goal. Experience how good it feels to accomplish your goal. Enjoy your success!
Step 3. Stress Management: Allow your mind and body to find its own balance by breathing deeply. On the range, hit balls for 5 or 10 minutes and then relax before hitting more balls. In-between rounds of a tournament relax your mind and body with massage, music, going to a movie, etc. Give your mind and body a chance to recover and regain balance.
Step 4. Mental Rehearsal: Practice makes perfect, or to be more exact, perfect practice makes perfect. The only place you can practice perfectly is inside your mind. As you imagine yourself hitting perfect shots or playing the golf course the way you desire, your brain is actually programming your muscles to give you that result. Practice this way a few times a week for 15 minutes. The best time to practice is at night when you are relaxed and your mind is drifting from the conscious into the subconscious mind, which stores all of your permanent memories.
When a golfer is in the right state of mind, he can produce his peak performance throughout the round. This means letting go of all irrelevant thoughts and focusing on creating the shot he wants. When the brain and body are in harmony before the swing, they act as one and the swing occurs without conscious effort or thought.
On the golf course, use this checklist to improve your mental game and your performance:
- Encourage yourself by reminding yourself of your good shots that you have performed in the past.
- Breathe deeply before every shot to relax your mind and body for a smooth even tempo.
- Focus on your target.
- Do the same preshot routine every time.
- Focus your attention on your success. Feel how good it feels to hit a good shot to build confidence and create a storehouse of success for confidence.