Thursday, 18 June 2015

Improve Your Golf Game While Sitting On the Couch. The Golf Mind Set Series – Issue 2

We all know that practice makes perfect. This is great in theory. However, a game of golf takes a big chunk of time out of your week. With an already busy life, it can be hard to get out on the course as much as you would like. In this blog, I’ll be showing you how you can improve your game of golf from the comfort of your own home. Sound good? Then read on.

This is the second blog in the Golf Mind Set Series. You will learn the power of mental rehearsal, the science behind the theory and how you can apply it to your game and see instant results.

If you have not yet read issue 1 you can do so here.

There is a huge amount of mind body interaction in golf and in sport in general. You’ve probably experienced this plenty of times, when your mind set is not right, your game is all over the place. Several interesting studies, including Kerkev. F. et al (2012), have tested groups of sports people. In most of the studies the subjects are split into three groups. One group practices every day. One group only imagines hitting the perfect shot or kicking the ball perfectly every day. The third group does nothing.

As you would expect, the first group (the ones who physically practice the sport every day) usually makes a significant improvement and the third group makes no improvement. However, interestingly, the second group, who had only imagined taking the throws or hitting the ball (depending on the sport) generally also makes a very significant improvement.

Isn’t that amazing? Just by visualising practising, the subjects in the study improved almost as much as those subjects who practiced every day.

So, how does this work? How did the second group show so much improvement without actually physically practicing? There are a few theories, but the leading theory is that, by practicing you are establishing set neural pathways in the brain related that specific task (e.g. throwing the ball into the hoop). When we imagine things, the same neural pathways become established, meaning we can repeat that action more easily and naturally in the future.

This strategy is known as visualisation or mental imagery. The golfer Jack Nicklaus regularly uses this strategy.

Here’s how you can do this:

1)      Get yourself into a nice relaxed state. You can do this by closing your eyes and taking several deep relaxing breaths. Alternatively, download a free copy of my Enter Hypnosis MP3 here.
2)      Imagine yourself on the golf course. Really imagine the scenery, who is with you, what you’re wearing etc.
3)      Engage all of your senses, notice what you see, hear and feel on the course. Take your time to make this as real and vivid as possible.
4)       Imagine yourself taking the perfect shot. Feel how you use your muscles when you swing. See the ball flying through the air on the perfect trajectory.
5)      Visualise the ball landing exactly where you wanted it to.
6)      Repeat as often as possible.

As well as reinforcing neural pathways, this also creates an expectation in your mind of being successful. If you are expecting to play well, it is far more likely that you will do so.

This is the second 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.