Archive for Visualisation Skills for Golf

As a golf psychologist using hypnosis and NLP, I am often asked about the merits of taking swing thoughts or keys out onto the golf course when they play. I’m thinking here about some of the classic ones like “keep your head down”, “keep your eye on the ball”, “swing back in one piece”, “left shoulder under the chin”, etc.

Now, my major concern about swing thoughts and keys is not so much about their content, but rather about when you think of them. Some would argue that there’s no place for them at all during a round of golf and they should be confined to the practice ground. While I broadly agree with this, I feel it’s more important to eliminate conscious thoughts about the swing once you step in to address the ball.

There are parts of a golfer’s routine that require conscious though and there are parts where it’s better to trust your unconscious …
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I’m delighted to announce the completion and launch of the eighth of my new golf hypnosis programmes, “Visualisation Skills for Golf”, and I’ve subtitled it Imagine Your Way to Better Golf. It’s available to purchase now from the Golf Hypnotist Store.

I developed this “Visualisation Skills for Golf” programme for two reasons. Firstly, to address one of the things that really annoys me about so many of the hypnotists I know. That’s because they simply assume that, because they can see pictures clearly in their minds, then so can their clients. If like used to, you’re struggling to visualise things clearly in your conscious minds, then you’re also frustrated with their insistence that everyone can visualise. The second reason is that the ability to visualise easily and well is a great asset to your use of all the other golf hypnosis programmes in this series.

Visualisation Skills for Golf

This new “Visualisation Skills for Golf” programme is available in MP3 format for download, with the three powerful golf hypnosis sessions, each running for around 25-30 minutes. I developed the individual sessions on similar lines to the “Your Own Virtual Caddy” programme, so you’re getting more than three times the hypnosis from each programme. I have outlined the purpose of each track later in this email.

I will also be publishing two more new and intriguing Golf Hypnosis MP3 audio programmes over the next couple of weeks. As with the other new programmes, I will be including at least 3 new golf hypnosis sessions in each programme.

Although the programme names may change a little before release, here is the full list, for now:

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We naturally expect the words we read to be the words that are written on the paper or screen we are looking at. We expect the same when we try to read a green when we’re playing golf. However, we are much more likely to be deceived by the green than by the written word, however difficult either is to read.

So let’s have a look at an example. Quickly read the next sentence and see what you think it says.

Now raed tihs snectene aagin slwoly to see waht it auctlay syas hree in balck and wihte. I ssucept taht it may be vrey dfreneift.

If that one’s a bit too easy for you, have a go at this next one. It’s one of my favourite quotes from my golfing idol …
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Effective visualisation is one of the key golf psychology tools for improving your golf score and your enjoyment of the game. It’s also one of the secrets of hypnotic golf. However, for most people, including me until recently, that visualisation tends to be two dimensional, a bit like looking through the viewfinder of a camera or at a picture on a television screen. Yes, I know that I could imagine some depth perspective, but what if I couldn’t actually see the bottom of the pin over that high lip of the bunker at the front of the green. That meant that I was looking at the lip of the bunker in my minds eye and then having to mentally add some more for the distance between the lip and flag. That’s too complicated for my golf mind!

You may remember my recent article about mental foursomes practice with golf hypnosis the other week. Now shortly after writing that I was watching a rerun on television of a recent US PGA Tour event and enjoying the overhead pictures from the blimp, when I had a sudden flash of inspiration. Why not visualise my shots in 3D and incorporate an overhead shot of how I visualised the shot I was about to play. It sounded difficult until I realised that if I can see it on TV, then surely I can visualise it. After all, I already had the overhead view on the course planner, so why couldn’t I incorporate it in my pre-shot routine visualisation and mental golf practice.

So, later that evening I took myself into a light trance using self-hypnosis and played an imaginary round of golf at Beaconsfield, my home course. I visualised playing every hole and every shot in 3D, even the putts. It worked great and I couldn’t wait to take the idea to the course …
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Practicing golf in your mind, mental golf if you like, is just as effective as playing golf and physical practice on the range, if you want to play better golf. As I’ve written many times before, it also works a lot better when accompanied by golf hypnosis and other golf psychology techniques.

But there’s a problem. How do you imagine hitting shots from difficult lies if you’re playing an imaginary round? Surely you’d have to hit bad imaginary shots in order to get into the difficult positions. Wouldn’t that be bad golf psychology?

When you play golf for real, you’ll probably hit the odd bad shot now and then. Hopefully, you’re already using a good post-shot routine, so you’ll be able to learn from the bad shot and release it to the past. It can’t hurt you there. Maybe you could use the "Reset Button" technique Nick Faldo spoke of when commentating on Tiger Woods the other week …
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There were some amazing golf and putting psychology lessons on show with Phil Mickelson’s stunning win at the Tour Championship at East Lake this weekend. Yes I know Tiger won the FedEx Cup and the $10 million with an amazingly consistent series of results. But given Phil’s year, both on and especially off the course, his victory on Sunday was a simply joyous and breathtaking turnaround. Phil had looked out of sorts in recent weeks and after his quadruple bogey 8 on the 14th hole in the first round, I had sadly anticipated him failing again over the weekend.

You’ve probably heard about Phil’s putting woes and his comments about how "I’ve hit the ball so well and yet my scores haven’t reflected that." You’ve probably also heard about how "Bones" Mackay, Phil’s longstanding caddie, urged him to get help the week before the Tour Championship from Dave Stockton, one of the best putters in golf and twice a major winner. As if those weren’t sufficient reasons, Stockton also putts a bit like Phil does when he’s at his best.

So what major flaws did Dave Stockton notice in Phil’s putting stroke and what major changes did he prescribe …
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As a golf psychologist, I’m regularly asked by clients about what they should be thinking about in their golf mind when they’re actually swinging the club or stroking a putt. Many of them will have some sort of pre-shot routine that prepares them to some degree for the shot they’re about to make. A smaller number will also include some sort of visualisation of the shot they want to hit. However, very few will be thinking about that visualisation when they actually hit the ball.

So what are they thinking about when they hit the shot? Well, a lot of them are consciously thinking about some aspect of their swing mechanics and that doesn’t work at all well, because your conscious mind doesn’t work fast enough to control your golf swing.

Have you noticed how when you hit a really good shot, you can’t remember what you were consciously thinking about in your golf mind. You just trusted your unconscious mind and the shot just seemed to happen. If you were throwing a ball to someone for them to catch, I doubt if you’d start thinking about how you move your arm to throw the ball …
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I was working with a client recently who wanted golf improvement without formal hypnosis for a destructive problem he had when playing golf. Let’s call him Alan for the sake of client confidentiality. I’ve changed a few other details as well for the same reason. Alan’s an enthusiast at everything he does – from work to golf to family. The priority sequence changes, but the enthusiasm’s consistent across all three. He’s also as honest and true to his friends as the day is long.

So let’s focus on golf. Well Alan’s a hard-working golfer, practising or playing most days, somehow. He has a good swing, is excellent around the greens and is an instinctively superb putter. He’s good at visualisation as well and practices stepping into the shoes of his golfing heroes. He often practices on his own with two balls – one played in his mind by Tiger Woods and the other by Jack Nicklaus. He also works hard on his physical fitness with long cross-country walks and almost daily workouts in the pool – whatever the weather.

Alan’s problem in golf is that he consistently scores much worse than he should due to unforced errors – accidents you could say …
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