Using Reverse Visualization

An interesting thing about the human mind is it tends to work backwards. When we set up to achieve a goal, the first thing we do is start with the end in mind and work backwards through the steps that would turn that goal into reality. When planning a vacation, you don’t start by packing your bags, you start by picking your destination. The same principle holds true for golfers and when applied, and it makes a big difference.

Golfers think in pictures and these mental images/internal representations are what direct the body on how to perform. Studies reveal that negative imagery and visualization decreases accuracy in all skill levels. Most golfers visualize the ball going towards the target or rolling towards the hole. The problem is that from this visualization perspective the desired end result is not always firmly established in the mind and too many outcomes can be created, such as the ball going left, right, long or short. In addition, some golfers use negative programming words like, “Don’t three putt,” “Just don’t jab at it,” “I can’t make this,” etc., etc. This negative self-talk prevents not only golfers, but everyone from achieving their goals. The subconscious doesn’t recognize negative words like don’t, can’t, won’t etc.

Reverse visualization works like this. With putting and when addressing the ball, the golfer should take a deep breath in and look up at the hole in a relaxed yet fixated way. Then imagine the ball resting at the bottom of the hole, and slowly exhale while imagining the ball rolling up the side of the hole, over the lip in the center of the line, and rolling backwards along the line towards the putter. Finish by exhaling and returning the eyes to the ball and take the putt. This method also applies to full swing shots too. Identify the ending target, starting target, and the spot to set up to, and then mentally trace this line back and forth a few times to engrain it in the mind.

For success on each hole, here is the basic mental exercise: When the player gets to the tee box, take a deep cleansing breath and let the mind and body relax. Find the flag in the distance and imagine being on the green tapping for birdie. Then visualize backwards from the green to the ideal spot in the fairway and imagine the perfect second shot to set up the birdie putt. Then trace the line back from the spot in the fairway to the tee box while imagining the ideal ball flight/trajectory.

Reverse visualization is a simple yet powerful way for golfers of all skill levels to use their minds more effectively on the course. Once again, this exercise can be used to achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve.


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