As dissertations go, spending 40 hours on a putting green compiling my “research” was not all that bad. And I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet but my thesis was golf’s equivalent of a course record – First Class, oh yes.
Oh no. I hoped that my putting study would actually help transform me from ‘Mr Twitchy’ to ‘Mr Reliable’. To date this has not happened, although I’d be happy to pass on my findings as it may work for you. After all, my lecturer – a fully qualified sports psychologist – did go over my work with a fine toothcomb.
Without going into too much detail, my findings were quite simple. Don’t picture negative thoughts such as the ball missing the hole. That is, clear your mind of any negative outcomes. The word ‘outcome’ is important because outcome imagery is different to normal imagery. Enough of the science…
You may perceive this as common sense and to a certain extent I would agree. However, positive outcome imagery did not improve performance as one would expect. Thus, my study would not support the theory that picturing the ball travel on the correct line and dropping into the cup improves putting performance. That was surprising.
What has become increasingly obvious to me is just how damaging picturing the ball miss can be. Doubtless many of us have pictured duffing our tee shot only then to do exactly that.
So, at the weekend I desperately tried to correct this. I had a number of good opportunities to test my own findings. Standing over a “tricky” two-foot putt on 15 to go 1-up my sporting companion pointed out that there was “plenty of chicken left on that bone”. My mind wondered and I pictured a stabby little putt lipping out. It duly happened.
Of course, as was pointed out by my lecturer, my study was not perfect. A lot depends on the individual to use imagery and other factors such as self-efficacy (confidence) play a part. In other words my ability to use imagery successfully was likely to be zero. Confidence-wise, standing over a short putt I’ve got about as much confidence as Scott Carsson has in a greasy goal-mouth right now. So I’ll direct you to the experts on instruction. And if you struggle with the mental game, check out our latest mind games advice.