One of the keys to achieve your goal or purpose in life is to have a clear image of it, and so it is in Golf. The more clear the visualization of yourself achieving that goal, the closer and the more passionate you are going to be about it. In golf visualization is the most important thing.
Tiger Woods used to say that he can still see the target when he is looking at the ball. Nick Price said he felt like he had a camera looking out of his left ear which allowed him to see the target in his mind as he looked at the ball.
What is Visualization?
Visualization is simply the process of creating an image or movie scene in our head. Daydreaming, if you will. Some people are better at this than others, but it seems as if this skill can be worked upon and developed.
Visualization has been proven to:
1. stimulate the muscles necessary to perform an action
2. program the mind and muscles prior to playing to increase confidence
3. control pre-round nerves and relax the body and mind
4. re-frame from negative to positive outcomes
5. help with swing changes
6. help recovery from injury
7. improve concentration
Two Visualization Techniques
There are two commonly used visualization techniques that you may see from time to time on the golf course. Each technique is a viable option, so you will need to try them both out for yourself before deciding which works best for you.
The first option is to emulate the approach used by Jason Day. In this method, you will stand behind the ball and visualize the entire flight of the shot prior to walking up and taking your stance.
To use this method effectively, it is crucial that you take your time to picture the shot in great detail. Visualization is not something you can do halfway – you really need to commit to the process. Start by looking down at the ball, and picture it taking off into the sky and floating all the way to your target. Picture the curve of the shot in the air, and how it is going to bounce and roll when it lands. The more detailed the visualization the better so don’t be afraid to close your eyes (like Jason) and really use your imagination to create an image of the shot in your mind. Once you have completely visualized the shot, step up and take your stance, and then let it fly.
The other option is to visualize your shot after you are already in your stance. With this technique, you will align the club, get your feet set into position, and then look up at the target to visualize the shot. The advantage of this technique is that it usually works faster than the other option – so if you are worried about slow play, this is a good choice for you. However, you will likely have a harder time picturing the shot in detail, so the benefit of visualization may not be as strong when trying this method.
How to Visualize
Remember that good visualization, like a good swing, takes practice and repetition, both of which can be found on the range.
During your next visit to the range, try using the following step by step process to sharpen your visualization abilities.
Step 1 – Pick a Target
Select a target on the range, and then pick a club that is appropriate for that target. You should be going through the club selection process just as you would do on the course – if you hit a 7-iron 150 yards normally, use your 7-iron to aim at the 150 marker.
Step 2 – Visualize the Shot
Prior to hitting a shot, visualize the entire ball flight from start to finish. Are you going to hit a draw, or a fade? How high is the ball going to climb up into the air? What flight path will the ball take through the air? Think about all of these details in advance, and factor them into your visualization.
A good way to start thinking about visualization is by watching the “protracer” that’s often shown during PGA TOUR events on TV. In a similar fashion you can “trace” the shot in your mind before even making your swing. The visualization you create can be an imaginary flight path line through the air similar to what the “protracer” displays.
Step 3 – Let it Fly
With your visualization complete, go ahead and hit the shot. Watch the ball fly through the air and compare it to the picture you had created in your head. Obviously, the goal is to replicate the shot you saw during your visualization when you actually hit the ball.
Step 4 – Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Repeat this process over and over again throughout your entire practice session. It will require patience to practice this way, but the benefits will be worth your time. Additionally, don’t get discouraged if your ball flight doesn’t match your visualization right away, or from time to time after that. Everyone hits bad shots now and then (even the pros) and the idea is to stick with it as the benefits of visualizing your shots mentioned earlier certainly outweigh the time it takes to work this process into your routine.
Will adding visualization to your golf game suddenly turn your slice into a powerful draw? No, probably not. However, when you visualize each shot that you hit throughout a round, you can improve your consistency by having a very specific plan for your ball flight.
Most amateur golfers simply walk up to the ball and swing away, which is not an effective way to play great golf. Visualization won’t turn you into the next PGA Champion, but it certainly can go a long way toward helping you lower your scores.
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