Friday, 5 June 2015

How To Use Your Mind To Overcome The Yips. The Golf Mind Set Series – Issue 1

Admittedly golf is never a life or death situation. However, if golf is your way of relaxing after a busy week at work, or if golf is your opportunity to socialize or network, then you want it to be as enjoyable as possible don’t you?
If you are a keen golfer, then you will already be aware of how much mind-body interaction there is in the game.

  • Have intrusive thoughts ever messed up a shot for you?
  • Do you overthink your swing?
  • If you make one mistake, does that affect the rest of your game?
  • Are you a better player when there is less pressure?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then you can use the simple techniques discussed in this series of blogs, to improve your game.

Imagine how good that will be. You winning the game, sauntering to the club house with an air of importance usually only seen in young pop stars, casually shoehorning your score into every conversation, walking in slow motion as if you are in a TV advert for golf clubs. I know nobody likes a smug winner…..but who cares? Not you, you’re the winner!
OK, so maybe the above is a little over the top. But it certainly feels better to win your game than to lose right?

So what are the secrets? How do you use your mind to help you rather than hinder you on the golf course?

Let’s talk about the yips first. I’ve treated many experienced golfers who inexplicably start twitching or shaking when playing. Often this can start suddenly and is very frustrating. An almost universal trend seen in golfers suffering with the yips, is that it only happens when they are under pressure. It only happens when an important game is being played, not if they are practicing on their own.
What does this tell you?

Well, it tells you there is no physical issue. This issue is purely in the mind. Therefore, it is relatively easy to resolve. The problem happens when you are under pressure, about to take that big shot in an important game. That game when you definitely don’t want to look stupid in front of everyone. All this pressure activates your fight or flight response. Your fight or flight response (also called the sympathetic nervous response) is triggered when your mind perceives you are in danger. Your body then gets ready to run or fight. Clearly this is not the correct response when you want your fine motor skills to be at their best and to be cool and calm taking a shot.
So how can we fix this?

There is a wonderfully simply technique you can use. This technique (called Systematic Desensitization, to give it its fancy name) makes a new association in your mind, between taking the shot and feeling calm.
You can’t be very calm and very anxious at the same time. If you make a new, strong association in your mind between taking an important shot in an important game, and feeling calm, then you are removing the anxiety.

Here’s how to do this:

1) Get yourself into a lovely relaxed state, by downloading and listening to my free Enter Hypnosis MP3 here

2) When you are really relaxed, imagine you are playing an important game. Really imagine it as vividly as possible, as if you're actually there. Notice what you see, hear and feel.

3) All the time concentrate on relaxation and hold on to that level of relaxation.

4) Imagine the whole scenario all the way through to the end and see yourself hitting the perfect shot, over and over again.

5) Repeat as often as possible.

This technique works by pairing the feeling of calm relaxation with the scenario in your mind. It's impossible to feel relaxed and anxious at the same time so the association of relaxation replaces that of anxiety or pressure.

This is the first in a series of blogs about golf and mind set. Please leave comments and check out the other blog entries in this series.

For more about the power of visualization in sports performance check out the podcast with professional power lifter and gold medal winning Laura Shea here.

If you would like more information about hypnotherapy, well-being and personal development, please subscribe to my newsletter in the top right.