Worldgolf Golf Tips

Mental Briefs For Better Golf

Visual Reversal

by Nick Rosa, Ph.D

If you saw the motion picture PSYCHO more than once, you know that the 2nd, 3rd or 23rd time you saw it, you experienced anxiety at one point in the film. Your heart began to beat faster with fearful anxiety when you saw Janet Leigh step into the shower. That's because the first time you saw this scene, it resulted in your being mildly, emotionally, traumatized. And, the resultant feelings got connected to that scene. Thereafter, whenever you saw that scene, the connected feelings emerged.

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This happens even when we think about mildly traumatic experiences we've had. Try this: imagine a time when you were driving in your car, speeding down the highway, you look in your rear view mirror and see red and blue flashing lights bearing down on you…. Or, imagine sitting in a roller coaster, holding on to the bar, and looking at the steep incline as you start to descend. … I'll bet some connected feelings emerged.

What's all this have to do with golf? Well, even the Greg Normans of the world have traumatic experiences on the golf course. And, traumatic experiences have a way of creeping back into our psyche and producing feelings that impede our performance. For example, let's say you multiple bogey a given hole at your club and you feel angry (embarrassed and mildly depressed are as common). On the next hole and when you play that hole at your club again, the memory of the multiple bogeyed experience would precipitate an angry feeling. Would such feelings affect your rhythm and play negatively? You bet they would!

So, what's a body to do? Well, you can use a version of a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) technique that psychotherapists use with people who suffer from post-traumatic stress; victims emotionally traumatized by war, floods, bombings, rape and the like. At Peak Performance Psychology (P-3) we have developed two versions for golfers: (1) the Slump Neutralizer, a very powerful version we employ with golfers and (2) Visual Reversal, a less powerful yet effective, user friendly, self help, version that golfers can use on their own. Both versions are based on the fact that running an event backwards in your mind - in precise ways - will neutralize the feelings associated with that event.

It will take you less than 15 minutes to learn the steps of Visual Reversal. Then, you can use it whenever you have trouble shaking feelings that stem from having just played a shot or hole poorly. It is recommended that you practice this technique at home first. Practice with a mildly traumatic, non-golf, event; e.g., a small disagreement with someone or an uncomfortable dream. Once you are able to follow the steps precisely, without looking at the outline, you're ready to apply it on the golf course.

The precise steps of Visual Reversal are:

(1) Imagine that you are holding a palm sized TV/video monitor in your hand.
(2) Imagine watching a black & white video tape of yourself from just before the "traumatic" (golf) event, through the worst of it. - Notice how you feel.
(3) Now imagine watching it being played in reverse - in color - very fast. From the worst back to just before the event . Repeat this step, five times, doubling the speed each time.
(4) Now, repeat #2 … Notice how you feel differently now!

If you have a fertile imagination you can practice and/or apply this technique with your eyes opened. If you are like me, you might be better off practicing and applying this technique with your eyes closed.

Eyes opened or closed, you'll be surprised at how fast you will be able to run your brain once you learn to follow the precise steps outlined above. Given the fact that our brains are fast enough to review our whole life in an instant, our brains can review a time limited, traumatic, golf experience instantaneously. If you be one of the occasional people who believes that you cannot run your brain so fast, as to do the exercise within a second or two, pretend that you can. Pretending works just fine.

Visual Reversal is a great tool. Use it on the golf course whenever you begin to have bad feelings resulting from a dubbed drive, approach shot or putt. Or, from a poorly played hole. Using this technique will enable you to neutralize feelings that would, otherwise, interfere with your natural rhythm and adversely affect your play on the next shot, the round and/or the next time you play that hole. Framed positively, using Visual Reversal will enable you to maintain your natural rhythm and ability .

Integrate Visual Reversal and Visual Rehearsal (see Mental Briefs - No. 3) into your mental preparation program. Many golfers report that these two techniques alone have made a big difference in shaving strokes, having fun vs. feeling miserable, qualifying vs. being cut, and winning vs. losing.

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