Archive for Unconscious 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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Strangely for someone who promotes the benefits of Unconscious Golf, I’ve always been fascinated with golfing statistics, especially about my putting! One thing I always seemed to notice was that I played better in certain forms of golf than others, especially with particular partners in foursome and fourball golf.

Well, I always seemed to putt better when I had a playing partner, so I’ll set aside 2-ball match play and stroke play for the moment. Now that I come to think about it, I generally seemed to putt better when I had a partner than when I was just playing for myself.

So why did I putt better with certain partners than I did with others? Well I fairly certain that I putted better when I played with a confident partner who I trusted to read my putts for me. The odd thing is that the partner I remember putting best with was not in my league in terms of handicap. He just seemed to read greens instinctively and he was certainly a good putter. He knew my putting style and trusted my judgement of distance, so he simply told me where to aim and I holed the putts – far more than my fair share.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone like that caddying for you now, I hear you say …
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Have you noticed how some people can just walk onto a green, take a cursory glance around and then hole a simply unbelievable breaking putt? I don’t know if you’ve holed one or two like that yourself. I’m sure you have, if you cast your mind back. It happens with other shots as well. Think about that amazing horseshoe chip that Tiger Woods holed on the 16th at the Masters a few years ago. Even with all his talent, I’m sure he didn’t honestly expect to hole it, but I suspect that he did intend to. That’s more than enough direction for the unconscious instinctive mind to work on, unhindered by doubt.

The older they get, the more golfers tend to forget how easy putting really is. They also forget how good they used to putt when they were younger and more carefree. You often hear the golf pundits on television talking about how some or other up and coming young professional hasn’t yet learned how difficult putting really is. They sometimes go on to talk about how the accumulation of years of missed putts slowly frazzles the nerves and undermines the confidence of the older and more experienced golfers. Maybe that’s how they justify their own inability to maintain their competitiveness on the tour. It’s small wonder that they’re now commentating rather than playing.

I work regularly with an American Senior Professional Golfer …
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Learn the Six Steps to Unconscious Putting, a key part of the pre-shot routine that Darren Clarke used so effectively at Royal St Georges in wining the Open Championship.

Unusually for me, there are no instructions here about using any formal self hypnosis technique before following these six steps. You’ll usually be using this technique as you transition from the conscious process of planning your putt in your pre-shot routine to the, hopefully, unconscious process of stroking the putt in your shot routine. Having said that, if you’re an experienced user of the “Finger Breathing technique, you’ll only need a couple of deep breaths at this point to get into just the right state.

Step 1:
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Shortly after first publishing my technique for “Six Steps to Better Putting in Your Unconscious Mind” over a year ago, I was surprised and delighted a few weeks later to see Darren Clarke using virtually the same technique in his dramatic return to form to finish second at Scottish Open at Loch Lomond.

I remember avoiding the suggestion, at the time, that Darren started doing that after he or one of his support team read about it in my ezine. However, it was obviously helping him in overcoming some of the “demons” that seemed to be afflicting his putting confidence back then. The six steps and his action back then of gripping left hand low and then re-gripping right hand low were clearly keeping his conscious mind occupied while just trusting his unconscious mind to hit the putts. …
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Have you seen the putting pre-shot routine that Darren Clarke’s using at the Open Championship this week and used to such great success in coming second in the Scottish Open last week? And did you notice how he seems to be incorporating my “Six Steps to Better Putting in Your Unconscious Mind” that I detailed in my Golf Hypnotist Ezine the other week?

Now I’m not suggesting that Darren started doing that after he or one of his support team read about it in my ezine. However, it is obviously helping to overcome some of the “demons” that seemed to be afflicting his putting confidence in recent years. The six steps and his action of gripping left hand low and then re-gripping right hand low are clearly keeping his conscious mind occupied while he’s just trusting his unconscious mind to hit the putts. It certainly seems to be working for him.

Why not give it a try? You can still read that ezine edition here and subscribe to regularly receive my free Golf Hypnotist Ezine using the box on the right hand side of this page. The new edition of the ezine comes out later today and includes the opportunity to download a free audio recording of the Finger Breathing relaxation technique I’m always talking about.

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I’m reading a recent New Scientist article talking about the Five emotions you never knew you had and I’m starting to think about how our emotions influence our golf. And they’re influencing us every time we play.

Now I’m sure that like the rest of us, you’re experiencing all sorts of emotions every minute of every day of your life. It’s a key element of living whether we are playing golf or doing something less important.

So what are these emotions I’m talking about? Well, as the article says, we all see different ones, but the consensus seems to include what psychologists apparently call the Big Six – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, Surprise and Disgust. Well they all crop up on a regular basis in golf, now don’t they? And they all appear either as desires or problems with many of the people who seek help from golf psychologists. My new book, The Secrets of Hypnotic Golf
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Have you made your New Years resolutions for your golf improvement – using golf psychology, perhaps? Well, even if you haven’t, I’m sure that many of you are excited about starting fresh, turning your life around and in some cases doing something about playing better golf. That’s fantastic! I know that 2010 is going to be an exciting year. I’m excited already, after completing my new book, The Secrets of Hypnotic Golf, over the holiday period. I’ve been talking about it for long enough and now its written, formatted and with the publisher, ready for launch late January or early February – Woo-hoo!

Coming back to those New Year’s resolutions, have you made your ones yet? No, don’t tell me what they are, that’s supposed to be unlucky. It’s enough that you’re clear about what you would like to change in your life and your golf in 2010? You know what you’d like to accomplish and where you want your life to go. That’s enough, isn’t it?

Well, I’ve got some bad news and some good news for you. Which would you like first? Okay, let’s start with the bad news. The bad news is that New Year’s resolutions generally don’t work …
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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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