Here are 5 easy ways that you can harness the power of your mind to shape your behavior and your actions, and most importantly, lower your scores!
1. Increasing Commitment To Your Shots
Commitment is one of the most important elements of a golf shot. Unless you’re 100% committed to what you are about to do, there will always be room for doubt, which will interfere with your execution. A clear visual image of your intention for the shot (especially for the short game and putting), and being able to stay connected with that image when you’re over the ball, will keep your mind and body athletic.
Having a clear, committed intention for the shot will also help keep your swing/stroke mostly “subconscious”, (done without thinking) which is when it’s most fluid and coordinated. If you struggle to overlay the shape and trajectory of the shot onto the landscape in front of you, try experimenting with picking a target for where you want the ball to start and finish, or just staying more engaged with the final target.
2. Pre-round Visualization To Increase Confidence
Visualization before a round can help you feel confident and ready to go out there and be successful. Part of your pre-round warm-up should include at least a few minutes of “mental rehearsal”. By seeing of movie of yourself on the course, hitting the shots you are about to play and how you want your mindset and body language to be, you’ll reduce doubt and increase confidence.
Include some replays of your past success and engage as many senses as you can during the visualization. What does it look, feel, sound and smell like? By the end of this visualization exercise, you’ll be in a “mood for success”.
3. Active Visualization To Improve Your Technique
Research shows that there’s a strong link between imagined and real physical movements. When you imagine a physical action, you stimulate the muscles that would be used in that action for real. Sports scientists call it “Functional Equivalence” or “Active Visualization”.
There are a couple of ways that you can use Active Visualization. In your pre shot routine, imagine what your swing or stroke will look and feel like to produce the shot you intend to hit. Imagining the movement can help you get closer to it when it comes to playing the shot for real. Try this during your practice sessions when you’re working on a technical improvement.
Studies have shown that simply thinking about a new physical movement can help improve your swing. Spend some time at home or away from the course imagining the movement you’re trying to achieve in your swing or stroke and you’ll accelerate the time it takes to make it part of your “muscle memory”.
4. Visualizing Your Future Goals To Bring Them Closer Towards You
What sort of player will you be in 5 years time? What does your future success look like? Whether it’s in golf or another area of your life, having a clear image of your goals (and reminding yourself of them daily) will keep you motivated and help you stay focused on what you need to do to get there.
5. Controlling Performance Anxiety Using Visualization
When you’re feeling stressed or under pressure on the golf course, there are many ways you can calm yourself down and remain in your “competitive mindset”. One of them is by using visualization. A round of golf is 80-90% “in between shots”. What you focus on during that time can help or hurt your round. One way to stay calm and relaxed in tournaments is to use your imagination to take yourself somewhere calm and uplifting. This could be your favorite vacation spot, things you like to do outside of golf or any good memories that make you feel happy.
Like all mental game techniques, visualization takes dedicated practice and repetition. For all the competitive players I work with, it’s an integral part of their game improvement and on-course game plan. If you do the same, you’ll feel more prepared and confident to achieve your goals.