Have you heard of Ernie Els going to a guru to enhance his mental strength for the game? It's true. Just before the start of the season in 2003, he spent some time with his 'mind' teacher and went on to shoot 30 under par and win the first event of the season.
So do the best of the best need to be mentally prepared to perform better also? Els proves that they do. With the right mental approach, players at all levels can synchronise their body's action, swing and mind. Here is a simple example of mind over swing.
Do you envision your shots before executing them? Jack Nicklaus, one of the greatest golfers ever, is legendary for his use of imagery prior to every shot. Tiger Woods often talks about 'seeing the shot' before he hits it. What you do with the pictures in your mind can create your stand behind the ball next time you make your shot. Imagination has an unbelievable power in influencing your capacity to perform on the golf course. If you are not using it, you are neglecting a valuable tool towards being a successful golfer.
Often, making your swing can be paralleled with directing a movie. A director can usually visualise scenes as he reads the script. You have a similar ability. You can make the shot you want to see.
Set the image in your mind exactly the way you want it. Visualise your shot clearly until it creates an imprint on your subconscious mind, nervous and muscular systems. The image actually gets embedded there and your body will begin to respond to the images. When you make the shot, it turns out perfect because you have the confidence to do it. This is the power of visualisation. Here's a little exercise for you to try before you make your next shot:
At the practice range, each time you hit a ball, stand behind it and visualise:
a The ball's flight
b The landing area
At home, practice visualisation skills with free hand exercises. Use imagery to see yourself striking the ball well by doing the following:
a Feel yourself relaxed and comfortable over the ball
b Feel yourself taking a smooth and comfortable swing
c Feel yourself with a full follow through
On the course, use imagery to see the shots you want as part of your pre-shot preparation.
a Visualise the shape, type and landing area of each shot
b See yourself comfortable and relaxed over the ball
c See the picture as clearly as possible
d Add feeling to the visualisation for greater impact (see and feel the positive image you've created).
Your handicap is not a factor in using imagery, both low and high handicappers benefit from it equally. Though the best players in the world do it all the time, it is effective for all levels of play. Give it a try and see how your game improves. If you are already using it, build on it, make it bigger, brighter and clearer.