GOLF MENTAL GAME COACHING TIPS BY DR. RICK SESSINGHAUS
Today I want to share with you probably one of the most empowering techniques to help you tackle your golf mental game. Back when I was a professional golfer and working with, now, a lot of athletes, visualization, mental rehearsal, is something that all of us can do to help us prepare for success, but also help our confidence level. For instance, if you have an event that you’re getting ready for, maybe it’s a sales presentation, maybe it’s a team meeting where you have to kind of lead it. It would be really important for you to be prepared for that, correct? One of those ways to actually rehearse it in your mind before it even occurs.
Quick story with the sports end of it. When I was doing research to get my doctorate in sports psychology, there was a great study on Olympic skiers. What they had them do is sit in a chair and actually visualize the entire run of the downhill. These Olympic skiers got so good at this that their actual visualization and their real run could get to a tenth of a second. That’s how they could be so accurate in visualizing it.
Here’s another cool thing. When they were actually sitting down, they connected little electrode things to sense muscle, and they had them visualize, and at the same moment they were visualizing going around a gate, one side of their muscles in their legs would fire. It’s like, whoa. Even though they’re sitting down, their muscles did not know the difference between what was real and imagined.
So think about that. We have, in our mind, a way to practice and train our mind for success. We certainly have the visualization of seeing it beforehand, but also, can you add other layers and other senses, right? What are you going to hear that day? What are you going to smell? What are you going to taste? The more senses you can put into it, the more real it becomes. As I just mentioned, your body doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and imagined, so we’re actually training and creating repetitions of success through mental rehearsal.
I have a lot of people say, “Oh, I can’t visualize, I can’t … ” Go back to past memories. Think of success from the past of what you’ve done well, and reimagine that again and play that picture again. That’s very powerful for your success, because you’re confident so you’re reminded, “Oh yeah, I’ve done that before. I closed that big deal before. Oh that’s right, oh yeah, I was confident. I really came in there with commitment. That’s going to help you as you move forward.
There’s two types of visualizations. One is called associative, which means that you actually see it through your own eyes. When you close your eyes, you’re seeing everything through your own eyes as if you’re, of course, the main character. How things are going to play out and what are you going to hear and those types of things. Very, very powerful.
With that, I would also add a layer of what I call If Then Visualization. For the most part, I’m telling you to visualize success, however not enough of us are able to adjust to when things don’t go well. So an If Then Visualization is if, for instance, I get in an objection to my sales presentation, then I will blank. Then I will listen to my client, then I will … And now we’re actually playing out different scenarios is also beneficial because you are now going to be very agile in how you behave. Associative, see it through your mind’s eye. See a successful outcome, but also see different scenarios that could occur and how are you going to behave in that?
There’s another one called disassociated, which is as if you’re going to see yourself on a movie screen. That one is powerful, especially in times where you’re anxious or fearful about something. Disassociated is to take you further away from it. If I pull you further and further away from it, it’s not as real and it doesn’t impact you emotionally. Disassociated, again, would be something, maybe a fear of public speaking or something. See yourself on the TV screen, on the movie screen. “Oh, I can see myself succeeding in that.” That’s a way to, you’re still seeing success, but you’re not in it as much, is a way that disassociating minimizes anxiety and fear about it.
There’s a ton of stuff with visualization, but what I really want my clients to do is visualize success before an important event. See how that intention is going to play out. See how you’re going to behave, how you’re going to react, and ultimately what is that end outcome? The more you visualize it, the more you’re training your mind for success. Remember, we’re performing every day, so let’s work on those golf mental game approaches.