Byron Nelson used to say that the best practice he ever did was at 4 o’clock in the morning, in bed, before a tournament.
This is fantastic advice I would advise all golfers to follow.
However, most golfers are not very effective with their “mental practice” as it’s commonly called. They give it a short attempt at the advice of some pro on TV or in a magazine and then they give it up because they don’t see instant results. I’m going to tell you why.
By the way, Notice I didn’t call it “visualization.” I mentioned in another video that you don’t have to “see” anything in order to do powerful visualization. Thinking that you HAVE to is the first biggest mistake golfers make.
Another mistake is in failing to bring up the desired state or emotion you want to have when doing imagination practice. Some golfers just close their eyes and imagine themselves putting coolly and calmly just like they do on a practice green. That’s all fine and dandy but that’s not going to help you when you come down to a crucial putt that you MUST have and your nerves get going.
What you want to do in mental practice is to imagine that situation where you are under pressure…and the nerves come up….and you have a keyword or thought that you PRACTICE in your mind taking your nerves down.
In other words, you are mentally practicing getting control of your bodily state. If you were to do this a hundred times before the next real pressure putt, I would bet anything that you would actually be able to do this in reality and then truly, calmly go up there and putt like you know how without the tension.
Another big mistake golfers make doing mental practice is they try to do too much. They work themselves all around a golf course in many situations and swings and shots etc.
To be 3 times more effective, what you want to do is to do mental practice on SPECIFIC, small parts of your game. The more specific, the better.
For example. You could imagine yourself chipping beautifully out of the bunker for a tap-in putt….over and over again. This is fine but if you want more results for your mental practice, then what you want to do is to go over and over the one thing ABOUT your sand wedge play that ensures good contact. Like keeping a steady base. Or hitting the sand an inch behind the ball. Better to focus on those details over and over and over, one at a time than to mentally practice hitting balls out of the sand with an unfocused mind.
It’s hard to remain motivated to continue mental practice when you can’t make the connection that it’s paying off in results. And it’s hard to discern that unless you are working on one specific item at a time.
Results come with consistent work and sometimes it takes awhile just like regular practice. Sometimes, you get results overnight and that is exciting!