Updated: Dec 26, 2018
We know that there are so many variables to good golf. Balance, tension, tempo, as well as the ability to control mental, emotional, and social variables you encounter while playing can quickly take your game to a new performance level. But we know through studies done that even with club fitting, fitness and improvements in the science of the golf swing, golf scores are not lowering at a rate we would expect. So let's add a variable for you, used by performance athletes in all sports- visualization. Often credited to Arnold Swarzenegger as seeing his biceps as big as boulders, this techinique was being used by Soviet athletes as early as the 1940's.
Learning to visualize positive outcomes for your shots before your round and as part of your pre-shot routine can really help you reduce your nerves. You will always see Jason Day using it before every golf shot. It takes the same emotional energy to imagine a good shot as it does a bad outcome, so lets stay on the positive side.
We will adopt the play box thought process from Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott (coaches of Annika Sorenstam and Ariya Jutanugarn. All our thinking is done behind the ball, when we step up to address the ball and go through the physical pre-shot routine, we are now in execution phase.
Start by standing behind the ball, visualize every aspect of your shot: the sound, the starting line, the shape, the targeted landing spot and even how it will react on the ground. Then go through the rest of your pre-shot routine while continuing to see that shot in your mind.
It will take some practice, but eventually your thoughts will become reality more often than not!
Take it even further. When you have an important round to play, maybe trying to achieve your lowest score, a tournament, or just as a regular part of your routine before you head off to the course, try visualizing sitting at home on your couch or in the car for 15 minutes when you arrive at the golf course. Do it for the first hole, see every shot and outcome, and eventually do it for the starting hole and any holes that you had previously had a problem with.
It is often quoted in many ways that the mind not only controls the body, but every conscious and un-conscious thought shapes our destiny. Why not employ this powerful philosophy in creating a higher performance outcome in our golf game? You have nothing to lose, and lower scores, and more fun on the golf course to gain.
Visualization is something we actively explain, teach and re-enforce in our competitive golfers for one simple reason, its an added advantage and it works!