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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Golf


Improving The Mental Picture Of Your Swing

Jack Moorehouse

Visualization techniques help improve your game. All good players do it, whether consciously or unconsciously. PGA pros, for example, visualize every shot they take. It's the key to their success. I also encourage it in my individual golf instruction sessions. Below are a couple of visualization techniques that I've written about in my golf tips.

To improve your scores quickly, try developing a good mental picture of your swing. Too many recreational golfers have a poor mental picture of their swing. Hence, their swings look awkward and disjointed.

This awkward, disjointed swing isn't solely the player's fault. It's also the fault of the way we teach golf. When I give golf lessons, I often work on individual elements of the swing, breaking it down into discrete parts so we can focus on correcting it.

Recently, for example, I worked with a player on completing a full shoulder turn before initiating her downswing. We worked on it for a couple of sessions. You can bet she thought of her shoulder when she played her next round.

This approach, as golf instruction techniques go, works well. However, it encourages you to think of your swing piece-meal, instead of as one fluid motion. When we practice, we also encourage the piecemeal picture of our swing by focusing on correcting individual swing faults one at a time, instead of concentrating on rhythm and tempo.

There are two basic components to your swing: your trunk, supported by your legs and feet, and the unit of your hands, arms, and shoulders. Your trunk moves on a fairly horizontal plan. Your hands, arms, and shoulders, on the other hand, move on a relatively vertical plane. The trunk is the hub of your swing, around which the hands, arms, and shoulder component moves.

A good way to think of this is arrangement is to imagine your trunk turning within the confines of a barrel, while the club moves up and down along the rim of the wheel. As your body rotates to the right (for right handers), the clubhead moves up along the rim of the wheel to the top of your backswing. As your body rotates to the left, your club moves down the rim of the wheel and back up the other side as you complete your follow-through.

In reality, your swing is not a perfect circle, since the dynamics of motion require you to change planes. Nor does your trunk move in perfect rotation. You have to have a slight lateral motion to the left. But the barrel concept is a fairly good way of thinking about your swing as a whole. It encourages the major components to work together in harmony.

Another technique that can help your swing is visualizing the type of shot you want to hit. Establish a pre-flight target line in your mind before addressing the ball. Retain this image when hitting. Then, try copying it with your actual ball flight. This visualization technique forces you to think about the target line, not your mechanics.

However, if you have to think about something during your swing, try thinking about a phrase promoting a smooth takeaway. Slow and easy or slow and smooth are good swing thoughts. Anything that produces a nice takeaway works well.

Why? Because the takeaway is the key to the overall shape and tempo of your swing. Tempo is the speed of your swing. Actually, the time it takes you to complete your swing, from beginning to end. We all have a natural tempo. Try maintaining it when hitting a club, whether you're hitting a driver or a sand wedge.

Individual golf lessons emphasize discrete parts of your swing. Visualization can overcome this. It focuses you on the harmony of your swing. In fact, you should get in the habit of thinking, "visualize to realize" on every shot. Golfers with single digit golf handicaps do.

Jack Moorehouse is the author of the best-selling book "How To Break 80 And Shoot Like The Pros." He is NOT a golf pro, rather a working man that has helped thousands of golfers from all seven continents lower their handicap immediately.

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