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Most recent posting below. See other articles in the column to the right.

Top 10 Mental Mistakes A Golfer Can Make

Here’s a list of the top 10 mental mistakes that golfers make. At least, these are the ones they talk about in the bar after a round of golf or in the office the next day. Although I’d normally want to know a lot more about the individual before offering advice, I’ve included my initial suggestions as to how to address each problem with golf psychology.

Number 1: Letting your internal dialogue run wild

Get a good hypnotist to install a post-hypnotic suggestion that you go into a trance as you step into each shot or use self-hypnosis to achieve the same result. Whichever way, you're allowing your unconscious mind to get on with playing the shot to the best of your technical ability while keeping your chattering conscious mind out of the action. That seems to work for Tiger Woods.

Number 2: Tightening up on your difficult shots

Learn to use hypnosis or an NLP anchoring technique to relax before planning any shot. Then control the inevitable internal dialogue with a post-hypnotic suggestion to relax every time you play a shot or stroke a putt.

Number 3: Worrying about the Yips

This is basically a mental tightening up on a specific difficult shot, so I'd handle it in a similar by learning to use hypnosis or an NLP anchoring technique to relax before planning any putt. I'm planning a future article specifically to address the issues of overcoming the yips.

Number 4: Telling yourself what NOT to do

I'm sure you've said to yourself, "Now, don't hit it into the water" or it could have been the water, the trees or the wrong side of the green you were trying to avoid. Your unconscious mind doesn't know how to not do something. If I ask you to not think of a blue elephant, you unconsciously have to imagine one - you probably just did! If you want to give yourself or anyone else a suggestion, phrase it using positive progressive language. It would be better to say, "Now, let's hit this ball onto the fairway over there."

Number 5: Dwelling on your mistakes and bad shots

The key thing is to learn from your mistakes, bad luck and plain bad shots before releasing them to the past where they can trouble you no more. Once again, you can make sure you do this with the help of post-hypnotic suggestions using self-hypnosis. Tiger Woods handles this well despite, or maybe with the help of, his temper tantrums when he hits a bad or unlucky shot. Once you release a bad shot like this, you're free to hit the next one to the best of your ability, as if you had never hit the bad one.

Number 6: "Trying" to consciously control your swing mechanics

Do you remember how hard it was to tie your shoe laces the first time and how it's now just an automatic process? To see what I mean, write down the step by step instructions for how you tie your shoelaces and then give them to someone else and ask them to follow them to the letter. Even if they succeed, it'll take them much longer than just using the unconscious program. Now imagine consciously following those instructions in the time it takes to swing a golf club.

The only effective way to swing a golf club is to switch off your conscious mind and all its thoughts about swing mechanics and trust your unconscious mind - you've already programmed it to repeat the best shot you've ever hit. And the way to make sure you do that is, as before, to install an appropriate post-hypnotic suggestion using self-hypnosis.

Number 7: Criticising your shot and looking for flaws in your swing

Even using hypnosis, you'll occasionally mishit a shot or be unlucky. However, that's no cause for criticism and certainly no reason for changing your swing mechanics out on the course. Just learn from the shot and move on.

Number 8: Comparing yourself to some other golfer

You can learn a lot in golf from watching a good player at his or her best, but the real challenge of golf is you playing against the course. It really doesn't matter how well or badly your playing partners or opponents are playing. If you play to the best of your ability and lose, then well done you and well done them. That's one of the many special things I love about golf.

If it still bothers you then install the post-hypnotic suggestion that you'll treat every shot as if it's the last one you'll ever play There'd be no reason to dwell on your past shots and there wouldn't be any in the future, so you might as well make the most of the one you're playing now.

Number 9: Thinking about what could go wrong

In your mind you unconsciously interpret this in a similar way to telling yourself what NOT to do. Your unconscious mind will have to think about the thing that could go wrong happening and it will then do its best to make it happen. If you want to evaluate what could go wrong, that's fine, before you make up your mind what you do want to happen. Then you can use your post-hypnotic suggestions and self-hypnosis to bypass your conscious mind and let your unconscious programming get on with hitting your desired shot.

Number 10: Worrying about other people watching you

If you're using hypnosis and NLP to manage your state and concentration during the round, you will be consciously unaware and untroubled by the actions of others. Even if they are thinking bad or critical thoughts about you, those thoughts are in their heads and not yours. Once you go into your playing trance you will be blissfully unaware of your conscious self-talk.

So what are my overall conclusions?

Now, it won't surprise you to hear that my suggestions all revolve around the use of hypnosis and appropriate post-hypnotic suggestions. You can also benefit from using other carefully chosen golf psychology techniques. However, using them without the hypnosis and post-hypnotic suggestions, you will probably forget to remember to execute the techniques on every shot.

One of the reasons that I failed to benefit from the Inner Game of Golf and the many other books, DVDs and CDs I purchased in my earlier years is that none of them installed any way of remembering not to forget to follow the techniques they taught when I needed them. The nearest anyone has ever got to achieving that has been Dr Karl Morris with his Circle Game, but even that only worked very intermittently for me.

It would be an improvement if I had a caddy every time I played and the caddy had a checklist of all the golf psychology instructions I had to remember. Even then, I would still need something like hypnosis to manage the interference from my conscious mind while I hit the shots.

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