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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Golf


Better Golf Shots in 2 Steps

Ron Allen

If you find yourself over thinking your golf swing this article is for you. Most of us know golf is mostly in your head and when you fix the mental part the rest becomes second nature. Inside the circles of sports psychology a mental technique called anchoring has shown some promise.

First just let me say, if you are just starting out, get some lessons to learn the fundamental swing. It is far better to learn a fundamentally sound swing in the beginning and build on it rather than teach yourself bad habits and then try to unlearn them. Learn the swing then go and hit balls. If your trajectory is straight and the distance is average or better you'll be way ahead of most.

Okay, here we go; when you go to the driving range to hit balls as soon as you hit your first good shot say to yourself something unique and memorable, like "bam" or "boom". This is your anchor word. The word can be anything but its best to keep it simple and limited to a few words at most. If you take a swing and the result is less than great do nothing but every time you nail a straight down the middle beauty say your anchor word. Say it out loud or just mentally but be sure to say it. That's step one.

Step two, after a number of good shots, imagine reliving a perfect shot and repeating your anchor word after each imaginary shot. Repeat and replay the experience mentally. Experience the whole shot in your mind, the sight, the sound, the feeling of the clubface striking the ball perfectly, the trajectory of the ball. Use as much detail as possible and remember, say your anchor word when your imaginary shot is complete.

What you're doing is building a mental pattern. The anchor word you use will become mentally associated with this pattern. Once the pattern has been successfully established you'll be able to summon the pattern at will. So anytime you feel negative about an upcoming shot, bam, trigger your pattern and imagine a successful resolution. Then take the shot.

One of the best things about this is that you can practice mentally even when you can't make it to the course or the range. Throughout your day, at work, at home, before you go to sleep at night, etc., take a few of your imaginary swings saying your anchor word upon completion. Remember; make the mental replay as vivid as possible.

By using this mental tactic you'll supercharge your practice and your results big-time. But, if you have your doubts, consider this, you have already unknowingly trained anchors into yours game. It's why you feel your gut tighten up and you choke on the pressure shots. What we are doing here is turning the table and using the process to our advantage.

Why should you incorporate the imaginary practice? Because it works, a study was conducted on 3 groups of people practicing basketball free-throws. One group was told to practice shots physically, the traditional way. Another was told to imagine practicing only. And the remaining group was told to do no practice at all. At the end of the study the group that did nothing showed no improvement. The group that practiced physically did show improvement but what amazed everyone is that the group that only imagined practicing free-throw shots improved the most.

Use this simple 2 step exercise for the next 30 days and watch your score drop. Sports psychologists or coaches may charge hundreds and in some cases thousands to teach techniques like this to athletes striving for peak performance.

Get the mental out of golf. Learn to release the barriers that keep you from great play.

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