Well if you’re stranded away from the course because of snow/grannies then we have the answer for you. Stephen Smith, our resident Golf Shrink, can sort you out. Now look into my eyes…
Its deep mid winter and the scene outside is just as King Wenceslas would have seen – the snow is lying across these isles deep and crisp and even. Across the land golfers are looking at the weather and praying for a respite so that they can get out and swing a club in anger. It has been so cold that even a trip to the driving range is out of the question for the hardiest of individuals- so no one has an opportunity to practice at the moment do they? Well perhaps there is.
Recent research split up a group of sportsmen and women into two separate practice groups. Group A were allowed to practice in their normal way with full access to all their equipment. Group B had all access to kit taken away and were forced to use mental imagery as part of their practice routine only.
After a couple of weeks the groups were assessed on their performance in the sport. There was no difference in performance between the group that had full access to physical kit and practice and the group that was only allowed to practice in their minds. Not surprisingly, subsequent research has shown that a combination of the two approaches produces the best results.
However, most golfers still only work on the physical side of things and continue to thrash balls on the driving range alone. To be good at this frustrating game we have to accept that we also need to use our minds to their full potential. To do this effectively we must take time out of each day (when we are away from the golf course) to practise our mental skills. With the courses shut and the driving ranges more like industrial freezer units now might be the perfect time to build these exercises into our daily practice routine.
This need only take fifteen to twenty minutes per day but will should feel the benefit throughout your round.
a. Find a quiet room or place to sit down for fifteen minutes.
b. Close your eyes and think yourself on the first tee of your course.
c. Play your way round the course shot by shot and putt by putt. Try and really use the imagery part of your mind to see, feel and hear each shot. Make sure you concentrate on your preshot routine and how you get yourself ready to hit a good shot.
d. At the end of the session try and focus on remembering one great shot that you have hit in the past and hold that image for 10-15 seconds.
The key to armchair rehearsal is to remember the good days, to finish your mental rehearsal on a positive note. Remember how it looked, the smells, the sounds and the feelings that you had when everything was going well. If you can concentrate on the good times and try to forget the bad shots you will find yourself walking onto the golf course in a much more positive frame of mind.
© Stephen Smith December 2010