l Mental Golf Articles by Joan King | Positive Mental Imagery
Positive Mental Imagery

Golf In The Zone State:

Golf In The Zone State
Attaining Your Peak Performance
Joan A. King, C.Ht., P.NLP

Being in the Zone State is where you attain your peak performance. It can happen to 40 handicappers as well as scratch golfers. When a golfer is in the Zone State, he has let go of all of the restrictions imposed by conscious irrelevant thoughts. The golfer has created the reality that he wants to happen. His mind and body are harmonized before the swing so the swing happens without any thought or effort.

Golf is different from other sports. In many other sports there is no time to think and the body reacts to the situation. It has been proven that Professional basketball players make more shots around the basket when the opposing player has a hand in their face and they have to shoot quickly, than when they take the time to aim the ball and shoot… and think (about missing). In golf, the ball waits for us and we spend too much time in extraneous confusing thoughts.

When a golfer is in the right state of mind he can access his peak performance throughout the round. In this Zone State, golfers feel as if they are in a trance, in a heightened sense of awareness where they have total control of all aspects of their game. Some golfers say they experience a sense of euphoria which includes total calm, ease and effortlessness in swinging and an enhanced sense of intuition. There is also an increase in power. Crisper, longer and more accurate shots result from the magnified sense of feel and awareness. Golfers have intensified concentration and mental clarity such as seeing a line on the green. In this trance, the golfer sometimes experiences being on automatic pilot as if someone else is swinging the golf club for him.

Ted Williams commented that when he was in the Zone, he felt as if the baseball was stopped at the plate, waiting for him to swing at it.

`When Michael Jordan was in the zone, making one of his spectacular leaps, he felt as if he would never come down.

John Brody, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback perceived the opposing line stopped when he was in the zone. He felt as if he had all day to throw the football downfield.

What do all these experiences have in common? Time stands still for athletes when they are totally focused on being in the process of performing. When we are playing golf well we also have a distortion of time and are lost in the enjoyment of the game.

When we aren’t playing well we are focusing on the things that make-up the process. We bombard our mind with instructions on how to swing the golf club. We judge our performance unmercifully. We get wrapped up in negative feelings of incompetence, failure, doubt, and embarrassment.

In our society we have been educated to "try harder". We are taught that the more physical effort we put into something, the more likely we are to succeed. This is very evident in the statement we have been hypnotized to believe, "No pain, no gain".

For golfers, a more appropriate axiom is, "To gain control, You have to let go of control". Once you have learned how to swing the golf club, you must LET GO and TRUST that the proper message will be sent from your unconscious mind to your physical body when you are on the golf course.

You have then bypassed your conscious analyzing, thinking, controlling mind and just reacted to all the learning and habits which are stored in your unconscious mind. If you are thinking about parts of your swing while you are swinging, you are controlling or steering the club with your conscious mind. This results in jerky, inconsistent, off-balance, out-of-tempo, off-line shots.

When you are driving your car on I-95 going south and you slip into a dreamy state of getting to Florida and playing golf, the car is steered smoothly by your unconscious mind. When you break out of your reverie and realize you haven’t been paying attention, the conscious mind (analyzing, judging, and criticizing) takes over and your driving motion becomes jerky.

To enter into the Zone State a golfer must trust his swing and be prepared to allow it to happen. A rhythmic movement such as walking, humming or whistling your favorite tune can move you into a relaxed state on the golf course. Movement into the zone includes all the physical and mental preparation for a round of golf.

Prepare yourself in the way you are most comfortable for your personality to become relaxed and confident. If you are a sociable person, converse with your fellow golfers. If you like to prepare alone, go to a place at the end of the range or green where you have quiet and solitude.

When you are aware that you are in "the zone" during your round, don’t think about what you are experiencing because that will bring you out of the process. Know that you are experiencing your peak potential performance and enjoy every minute of it!

The Club Golfer, January 1997


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