By Kevin Hutto

You’ve heard coaches tell their players to “be the ball” and imagine themselves rolling towards the hole. Others, meanwhile, instruct their golfers to be aware of their shoulders, hips and arms as they prepare to hit the ball so they can direct the club to swing correctly. Still others convince their players to think that victory in a particular tournament is their God-given right.

All these are forms of mental imagery or the use of visualization or mental images to enhance performance and ultimately achieve the results they want for their game. In sports, mental imagery is used not only to “see” the perceived triumph, but also to motivate and encourage players to train harder and with more intensity. It is also used to perfect skills, familiarize oneself with the layout of the course and to condition their minds to perform well before any game. During a game, mental imagery is helpful in bringing back a player’s focus so he or she can get back on track.

If there is any other game where mental imagery can have a lasting and positive effect, it has to be golf. In fact, golf pros swear by it. Jack Nicklaus reveals: “I never hit a shot even in practice without having a sharp in-focus picture of it in my head. It’s like a color movie.”

When you see with your mind’s eye the direction of the ball all the way to the hole or mind your stance, your grip and swing so you align your body so well to the target line and ultimately dictate your swing to hit the actual shot to a favorable area in the fairway, you are already influencing the outcome of your game. And the most ardent supporters of mental imagery for sports swear that you are telling the universe to let the game go in your favor.

So before you play your 18-hole round, close your eyes and breathe rhythmically Then picture the green in your mind’s eye and concentrate on perfecting your swing as you prepare to tee-off. Then imagine yourself sinking the putt.

Now it’s time to go ahead and make your visualizations a reality!

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