Archive for Golf Mind

In this fourth blog post in the series on practice, I’ll be talking about Best Mental Practice for Better Golf, a favourite subject of mine – for obvious reasons.

Mental Practice

Research shows that the act of “Imagining” yourself doing something fires up the identical parts of the brain that would be activated if you were actually doing it. So if you’re imagining yourself playing golf, the neurons you’re using in your brain are the very same ones that you’re using when you’re physically playing the game. Indeed, some of the actual muscles involved in playing a real shot are activated and make the same movements at a barely noticeable level. You really do “physically” practice your swing when you imagine hitting the ball and you have no reason to hit a bad shot when you’re practicing and playing in your imagination. …
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I wouldn’t be at all surprised if by now you’ve noticed that self-hypnosis is a key part of my overall approach to golf mind improvement. In fact, many of the golf psychology techniques that I talk about in my articles start off with the words “If you’re familiar with a quick technique for taking yourself into self-hypnosis, then use it now.”

So today, I’m pleased to announce a new, improved and, very important this, free 12-minute MP3 audio version of a simple technique for taking yourself into a safe, light and relaxing trance. Using it will help you in getting the most out of the golf psychology ideas included in my other articles, newsletters and posts. You can also use this technique to calm and relax yourself at times of stress and anxiety, like taking an exam, meeting the boss, first-tee nerves or standing over an important shot on the golf course.

You can learn how to use the Finger Breathing self-hypnosis and relaxation technique by regularly following the “Seven Steps to Learning Finger Breathing” outlined on my ezine website. That page also includes download instructions for new and improved Finger Breathing MP3 recording.

As you’ll soon realise, this “Finger Breathing” technique does require a bit of imagination, but you must already be pretty imaginative if you’re looking to use golf psychology to improve your golf!

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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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Have you ever had one of those days when you played better golf than normal, despite having your mind clearly focussed somewhere other than golf. Maybe it’s when there’s something exciting or absorbing going on in your life that has nothing to do with golf. At the other extreme, it could be a time when you’re feeling ill or worried about yourself. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “beware the sick golfer” and that’s what was said about Y E Yang when he shot a 7-under par 65 on the Friday of the Chevron World Challenge. Afterwards, he related the experience to what happened at qualifying school in 2008 when “I had a huge headache because I was under a lot of mental stress.” This time, he went on, “I still have a headache, but it’s more because of illness, not because of any pressure or stress.” Another good example was Tiger Woods winning the 2008 US Open despite the obvious pain from his knee.

So what’s happening here? Well, if your mind is focussed elsewhere, it’s your conscious mind that’s doing the focussing, whether it’s worrying about your health, doubting whether you should be out here on the golf course or just thinking about what you’ll be doing after the game. The only part of you that’s free to think about golf is your unconscious golf mind and trusting your unconscious is one of the most important and effective of my secrets of hypnotic golf …
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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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How much is the accuracy of your golf shot influenced by club alignment at address and how much is down to your instinctive or unconscious golf ability? Now I’m not talking here about the complexity of aligning the various parts of your body when you address the ball. That’s a subject for your golf pro, not your golf psychologist. All I’m interested in here is the alignment of your club face at address.

I’ve been writing a lot recently about the importance, in golf psychology terms, of a quick transition from the conscious processes of planning your golf shot and selecting the right club and the unconscious process of taking your stance and hitting the ball. What concerns me most is that while the best golfers seem to take as little as 11 seconds to complete this transition the average golfer seems to take that long just to align their stance and the clubface.

Now, I don’t want you to go straight out and time how long you take …
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Now you know I almost always write about the conscious and unconscious golf mind in my articles and rarely, if ever, say anything about the technical aspects of the golf swing or putting stroke in my blog.

Well today is different, as the man who can give such an effective putting tip that it helps Phil Mickelson to win the Tour Championship just has to be seen and heard. So here’s a brief video of Dave Stockton describing his approach to putting.

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Don’t worry, as I’ll be back on track with Golf Psychology and Golf Hypnosis in my next article.

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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 wouldn’t be at all surprised if by now you’ve noticed that self-hypnosis is a key part of my overall approach to golf mind improvement. In fact, many of the golf psychology techniques that I talk about in my articles start off with the words "If you’re familiar with a quick technique for taking yourself into self-hypnosis, then use it now."

So today, I’m going to describe a simple technique for taking yourself into a safe, light and relaxing trance. Using it will help you in getting the most out of the golf psychology ideas included in my other articles, newsletters and posts. You can also use this technique to calm and relax yourself at times of stress and anxiety, like taking an exam, meeting the boss, first-tee nerves or standing over an important shot on the golf course.

As you’ll soon realise, this "Finger Breathing" technique does need a bit of imagination, but you must already be pretty imaginative if you’re looking to use golf psychology to improve your golf …
Click here to read the full post »

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