Anchor your good golf shots with a post shot routine using NLP and golf hypnosis


I’ve been writing a lot lately about the negative and positive golf psychology of fear on the golf course. While I’ve been thinking all about golf fear consciously, it seems that my unconscious mind has been quietly working away on the question of how we actual do this "fear" thing in our golf minds. Using a post-shot routine was the answer – to the problem, not the question.

Now in NLP and golf hypnosis, we have many ways of managing a person’s fears. If it’s a full blown phobia, we can deal with that easily. If it’s a habit or belief that’s blown out of all proportion, we can help there too using techniques like the NLP Swish Pattern. If we need a skill that someone else has we can use modelling and Richard Bandler’s "Stealing a Skill" technique. If the fear is doubt related and, as we might say colloquially, there’s a part of me that wants to play a risky shot and another part that’s saying it’s too dangerous, then we’ve got the NLP Visual Squash parts integration technique. And there are many more NLP tools we can use before we even start looking at golf hypnosis.

So why not use one of these techniques to manage or eliminate fear? Well, you can use these techniques and if they are really deep-seated fears, you may need them. But what about nipping the fears in the bud, so that we don’t have to remember them every time we come to play a similar shot? After all, didn’t I read somewhere that Tiger Woods says about hitting bad shots, "I hit it and forget it?" You can’t go back in time and replay a shot, so just forget it and move on." If there’s a way to forget our bad shots, then surely we don’t need to fear them.

Now that reminds me of a story I’ve used many times before about Jack Nicklaus genuinely only remembering the putts he holed, never the ones he missed. So has Jack ever missed from inside of six feet on the last hole of a major? Of course he has! Does he remember it? Not a chance. And do you think he cares that he can’t remember? Some people would probably say that Jack is deluded in his thinking, that it is not based on reality. Well, we all create our own realities and Jack’s seem pretty good to me! You can read the full story in my earlier article entitled Better Putting in your Golf Mind with a little help from Jack Nicklaus.

So where is all this going, Andrew, I hear you ask. Well, we hear and read a lot about pre-shot routines and most of the people I know now use them diligently. But few if any use any sort of post-shot routine. They usually just replace any divot, put the club back in the bag – sometimes firmly, sometimes gently – and either, walk forward happily or trudge forward miserably. Of course some rant and rave, but we’ll ignore those for now – seems like good advice to me.

If you react positively after hitting a golf shot, your brain produces lots of happy chemicals and associates those good feelings to the shot you’ve just hit and to the hole you’ve just played. The next time you play that hole or a similar shot, you have the opportunity to unconsciously remember that feeling and the associated result. In NLP we call this anchoring. Something similar happens if you react badly after hitting a shot and that bad shot can get anchored too. So my recommendation is to really enjoy your good shots – you want to remember them – and release the bad shots to the past without any emotion, like someone else hit that bad shot. You can’t go back in time and replay a shot, so just forget it and move on.

Now I don’t like prescribing detailed pre-shot routines to people as it is far better to develop your own one from what works best for you. I think the same applies to a post shot routine, so I’ll just list these few simple pointers:

  1. Identify a specific trigger for the post-shot routine, like seeing the ball stop moving
  2. If it’s a good shot, then really feel good and replay the shot in your mind just as it felt when you hit it
  3. If it’s not a shot to remember, then don’t react at all and just see it briefly as if you were watching someone else play the shot
  4. Good or bad, consciously release the shot to the past and relax as you start walking forward to the next shot.


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