Meditate to Elevate your Game for 2013
By Erika Larkin on 12/28/12
I once heard about a study that was done that compared the free throw skills of two groups of basketball players after a period of time where one group practiced on the court and the other group only practiced by visualizing themselves making free-throws with no hands-on practice. Believe it or not, the group that didn't even touch a ball in "practice," performed better once they were tested! They never saw themselves fail - the power of the mind. Body connection is an amazing thing.

My reading and research over the years has shown that your nerves can fire and you can develop muscle memory - even without physical practice! So here is my suggestion:

Find some quiet over the next few weeks and lie down on a comfy chair or bed somewhere and close your eyes. Concentrate on your breathing and try counting down from 20 slowly until you are very relaxed state both physically and mentally. Now it's time to play some golf – in your mind, of course... but your goal is to see yourself play perfectly. Beautifully. Effortlessly. Confidently.

Go through your normal routine, see yourself in your car driving up to the clubhouse, putting your shoes on, warming up. Don't rush it; enjoy the process and see yourself hitting great shots and putts that go in. See yourself play three holes, nine holes, eighteen holes... whatever you have time and patience for. Be aware of your emotions and feel yourself smiling and happy to be there. Feel the weather, see the blades of grass and the flag blowing, find your distance, pick your club, make decisions and feel a smooth swing with great rhythm. This whole process may seem unnatural or forced at first, but the more you do it, the more real it will seem.

Now drop your skepticism and give this a chance. It may seem boring or it may seem difficult to let yourself relax and "meditate" (it really isn't scary word). You may find it hard not to fall asleep or you might find it hard to lay still. I hope we can all agree that by practicing a skill, you get better over time.

Mental imagery, mediation, visualization, inner and outer awareness, quieting your mind, focusing (avoiding distractions) are all skills and you need to find a way of practicing them, so why not start now and give yourself a chance to build these skills for 2013. You may be pleasantly surprised of the new peace you feel when you step on the real course in the Spring or a new found ability to see good shots and avoid negative thoughts, control your emotions and believe in yourself with potential for better physical results too!

Good luck and happy New Year!!

Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community, at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine... and she's oobGolf's newest columnist! She writes on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, email her at Enjoy!

[ comments ]
Torleif Sorenson says:
Erika is correct.

As a musician, I first became really aware of six-string bass when Guitar Player magazine published an article about bassist John Patitucci with his Ken Smith six-string bass. I looked at that bass for a long time and thought about how I would make use of the extra low B-string. It was another eight years before I was able to get one, but after having thought deeply about what I could do with it and knowing that it wasn't impossible to go from four strings to six, I bought one. My transition took only a couple of hours, and I was set. In fact, it was two years later when I was driving on a road trip that the idea of alternate tunings came to me.

The mind *is* a powerful thing. Erika is absolutely right - set aside your skepticism and trying using that power.
GolfSmith7 says:
I concur with Erika, as a minister I preach on meditation especially about the life of Christ. The more we meditate on Him the closer we reflect His image. We become more caring, loving, forgiving, patient etc. The same goes with other aspect of your life, in this case golf. There is a biblical principle that by "beholding we become changed." Meaning that whatever we contemplate/meditate on we begin to transform into that... Do it wisely and the rest will follow.
legitimatebeef says:
I glanced at the title and mistook it as the guy Tiger Woods beat in that US Open playoff is launching a teaching career next year. Oops.
Torleif Sorenson says:
Beef... good grief... :-P
DougE says:
+1 for meditation. Hell, I shot a 68 the last round I visualized!
(But, seriously Erika, I do think meditation is a good thing.)
Spaceman_Spiff says:
I'm all over this. I've heard the same study of the basketball players. I use this study annually with my band students. The mind is truly a powerful tool.
Kurt the Knife says:
Meditate to elevate
Try not to hate

Love your mate
Don't suffocate on your own hate
Designate your love as fate
A one world state
As human freight
The number eight
A white black state
A gentle trait
The broken crate
...bah, you know the rest
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