I’m not one of those new age types that thinks as long as you think positively everything you want to have happen will. However, when it comes to the game of golf there is no doubt in my mind about the power of visualization. Before every single shot I hit I stand behind the ball and see from start to finish the result that I want to have happen.
Part of the Preshot Routine
If I’m hitting a tee shot I imagine what the impact will feel like, how the ball will fly through the air (trajectory and flight path), then I see the ball land on the fairway and take a few bounces before coming to a stop. If I’m hitting an approach shot of any kind, whether it be a long iron from the fairway or a short pitch/chip shot I feel the ball coming off of the clubface, flying through the air, where it will land on the green, how it will roll as it makes it’s way towards the cup, and finally I visualize the ball dropping into the hole. Even on putts I see the path I expect the ball to take, both the speed and break needed and watch the ball enter the hole at the speed I desire (firmer for shorter putts, falling in on the last drop if I’m trying to lag).
During the swing I will keep the mental picture of the target in my head. If you think about other sports like baseball, basketball, or darts your eye is constantly focused on the target. You are looking right at the place you want to throw the ball, the hoop, or the dartboard. The mechanics of the golf swing do not really allow you to do this so you have to keep your “mental eye” on the target by holding the image in your head.
It’s All in the Details
The more detailed of a picture you can paint and the more senses you can visualize the better off you are going to be. What you are doing is getting your mind in the right place to achieve the clear goal you have established. You are putting all of your focus on what you want your mind and body to do, clearing you head of any negative thoughts that could be a distraction.
Another great benefit from visualization is that mental practice is almost as effective as true physical practice. This means that each time you visualize a swing and it’s result, it’s like getting to hit an extra ball on the range. Before going to sleep at night or while you are bored at work or both times you can “hit shots” in your mind’s eye.
If you are playing in a tournament or have a big match against a tough competitor coming up, you can use visualization to achieve your goal. Imagine what it will be like walking off the 18 hole with the win. What emotions are going to be running through your body, what sights are you going to see, what are the sounds that you would hear. This kind of mental rehearsal will get your mind clearly focused on what you want to accomplish.