Throughout the years, I have heard professional golfers talk about how they would "will" the ball to their target. This ability has always fascinated me and a skill that I'm sure the vast majority of golfers would like to possess themselves. I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you an easy way how you too can make this possible in your golf game. By incorporating this simple mental golf strategy you are about to learn into your pre-shot routine you will notice an increased ability to consistently hit better golf shots and notice yourself "willing" the ball to your target.
I call this pre-shot routine process is Affirm, Visualize, and Commit. Let's go over the steps so you know exactly how to implement this strategy into your golf game.
Step 1 Affirm What You Want: When you are standing behind your ball preparing to take your shot, start your pre-shot routine by affirming what you want to achieve on the shot either out loud verbally or mentally to yourself. For example, "I am striping this tee shot straight down the middle of the fairway."
During this step, it is very important that you affirm what you want your shot outcome to be and state it in a positive and specific way. Believe it or not, so many golfers inadvertently fail to hit their targets and perform on the course due to using negative langauge prior to their shot. For example, if you have to hit a tee shot off over a water hazard many golfers will say to themselves,"don't hit this one in the water." As simple as it sounds, negative statements like this can have devastating effects on your performance and actually increase the likelihood of doing what you "don't want" to do.
The reason this occurs is simple. Your subconscious mind doesn't understand negative connotations in language, and the words "do" and "don't" mean the same thing to your inner mind. If I tell you, "Don't think of a pink elephant on a golf course" then you immediately think of the pink elephant. When you say "Don't hit this in the water" the same thing occurs. The subconscious mind thinks of the water, believes it to be your target, and you end up hitting your ball to the bottom of the lake. So many golfers overlook the way they are talking to themselves prior to their shot and as a result underperform on the course.
Here are some examples of negative thoughts to eliminate during before a shot:
Shift these thoughts into empowered self-talk that lead to greater success:
To recap, step 1 is to Affirm in a positive way what you want your outcome to be before every shot.
Step 2 Visualize The Shot: The use of visualization has been scientifically proven to increase performance in all sports, especially golf. Research shows that when a person visualizes themselves executing a task, they are developing 80% of the neural pathways needed in the brain to actually perform the task. In other words, when you visualize success you are 80% of the way to achieving that result and if you visualize negative outcomes happening you are 80% of the way to that result.
Every thought we have creates a psychosomatic response in the body and your thoughts on the golf course do in fact affect your swing performance. Negative thoughts of doubt, or pessimism about a shot will produce tension in the body which will inhibit your ability to execute your swing properly. Holding positive thoughts vividly in your mind have been shown by researchers to produce an increase in coordination, motor skills, fluidity of movements, and execution regardless of the sport.
After you have done step 1 and affirmed your positive outcome, take a moment to visualize yourself as vividly as possible executing your outcome to perfection. Visualize in your mind's eye, a smooth, rhythmic swing that is on perfect plane, and strikes the ball on the sweet spot. Imagine your ball traveling with the perfect trajectory and right on path to your target. Finally, visualize your ball landing right on your target, reacting in the way you want, and coming to a rest perfectly set up for your next shot. Always visualize your shot being executed flawlessly every time. The more real you can make the experience the more your subconscious mind will work in your favor to cause your body to execute in a way to produce the desired result. Think of step 1 and 2 as success programming for your mind prior to the shot.
Step 3 Commit to the Shot: After you have programmed your mind by affirming your positive outcome and visualizing a successful shot, you no longer need to think about anything. It's now time to fully commit to your shot, step up, and make it happen. When I use the word commit what I am really talking about is having faith and trust in your ability to execute. By following the first two steps, you have already done all the necessary thinking to produce success. Since you have affirmed your outcome and visualized the success in your mind's eye no more thoughts are required to execute. The goal now becomes fully committing to the shot you envisioned and performing with as few thoughts as possible. So as you address the ball, hold in your mind one simple thought, "Commit" or an image of your outcome, and then let your swing rip. As you learn to commit to your positive programming and maintaining the expectation of success in your mind prior to the shot, you will amaze yourself with the success you will produce.
Some of the game's most historic golfers have learned how to "will" the ball to their target. You now know one of the simple secrets to achieving the same results in your game. All that is left to do now is consistently apply this simple process to each shot during your pre-shot routine and reap the rewards of better execution on the golf course. Want more ways to train your mind for success? Check out the Mental Caddie and tap into the power of your mind.