Mental Imagery

MENTAL IMAGERY

Mental imagery involves you imagining yourself in a specific environment or performing a specific activity. The images should have you performing these items very well and successfully. You should see yourself enjoying the activity and feeling satisfied with your performance. You should attempt to enter fully into the image with all your senses. Sight, hear, feel, touch, smell and perform as you would like to perform in real life.

When you are in a fully relaxed state, you are particularly receptive to mental imagery. The next stage is then to learn how to develop and apply mental imagery skills.

What can Mental Imagery be used for ?

Mental Imagery can be used:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mental imagery should not focus on the outcome but on the actions to achieve the desired outcome.

How do I Apply Mental Imagery ?

Jack Nicklaus described how he used imagery to help his performance, he wrote:

“I never hit a shot even in practice without having a sharp in-focus picture of it in my head. It’s like a colour movie. First, I “see” the ball where I want it to finish, nice and white and sitting up high on the bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes, and I “see” the ball going there: its path, trajectory, and shape, even its behaviour on landing. Then there’s a sort of fade-out, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images into reality only at the end of this short private Hollywood spectacular do I select a club and step up to the ball.”

When should mental imagery be used ?

To become highly proficient at the constructive use of imagery, you have to use it every day, on your way to practice, during practice, after practice, and in the evenings before sleeping. If you want to perfect and use mental imagery to your fullest advantage you can start by doing two things. In every training session, before you execute any skill or combination of skills, first do it in imagery as perfectly and precisely as possible. See, feel, and experience yourself moving through the actions in your mind as you would like them actually to unfold. In competitions, before the event starts, mentally recall the event focus plan, significant plays, skills, movements, reactions, or feelings that you want to carry into the event.

How can I stay focused?

You have more than likely seen a golfer become angry at their performance (throw the club, crack up etc). The problem here is that the golfer is focusing on the mistake (the past), something than cannot be changed, and not on the future (the next point).

“Pattern breaking” routines are used to help prevent you falling into this negative attitude. A “pattern breaker” can be a word or phrase shouted within the brain (not vocally) or something physical (pinging an elastic band on the wrist). Use the “pattern breaker” in training or competition to refocus yourself.

Many young golfers have their idol (role model) who they would like to emulate. You may see the golfer attempt to assume the identity and hallmarks of the role model when they perform. This is beneficial provided the role model is a suitable one. Watching the role model in action (video, television, live) will help the golfer see how their idol stays focused and how they react to their mistakes.

The role model’s name could become the “pattern breaker” phrase for the coach to use when their young protégée falls into the negative thoughts trap. On hearing their role model’s name the golfer will shift their focus to how their role model would react and hopefully assume a positive (calm, composed and motivated) approach.

 

What are the Benefits ?

Mental Imagery itself can be useful in a number of circumstances including:

 

When combined with relaxation it is useful in:

The “Quick Set” Routine

A quick set routine is a routine which would allow you to achieve an appropriate mental state of arousal in the last 30 seconds before a competition. The “Quick Set” routine, which involves physical, emotional and focus cues, can also be used as a means of refocusing quickly following a distraction.

An example of this routine could be:

“You only achieve what you believe”

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