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Self Hypnosis 101
In The Zone: How Visualizing The Positive Can Change Your Game
Legendary golfer Ben Hogan used to say when he was playing at his best that he could often see his next shot completed before he even started the club moving forward. Golf psychologist Al Smith said what Hogan was describing is a simple case of self-hypnosis and visualization.
"When athletes talk about being in the zone, often what is happening is a form of self-hypnosis," said Smith, who taught golf at Sunset Hills Country Club and Saticoy Regional Golf Course in the early 1970s. "When you get in the zone as an athlete, it's really about eliminating all the negative thoughts and visualizing the positive."
To help athletes and even non-athletes reach a state where they can control their mind and reach peak performances, Smith has written a book titled "The Winning Zone." The book explains in simple language how the conscious and subconscious minds work and how they can be trained to allow anybody to accomplish anything from quitting smoking to lowering his or her golf score.
"When our subconscious mind sends a message to our muscles, it travels 10 times faster than a message coming from our conscious mind," writes Smith. "For an athlete, the zone is a mental state where our subconscious takes control of an activity. In that state, the ego and the conscious mind are prevented from interfering, so there are no conscious pressures sabotaging a person's success."
Most golfers have had a time when they are playing well above "normal", hitting great shot after great shot. But when the golfer starts to think about how well he or she is playing, that is the point where the conscious mind starts to interfere and often sabotages the player's game. "When you start to think, your muscles tighten and you can't perform as well," Smith said. "The goal is to take the conscious mind out of the task and let the subconscious take over."
Smith has worked with athletes of all skill levels to help them perform better through a better mastery of their mind. It started with his students at Sunset Hills, and through word of mouth, other athletes, including professional golfer Al Geiberger, started coming to Smith for help with the mental part of their sport.
Smith feels that visualization can help any person achieve their goals. The subconscious mind being unable to differentiate between something real and what is imagined, the more vivid the imagination, the more real the subconscious mind thinks the visualized scene/picture is. Smith is convinced that if an athlete spends enough time visualizing success on the field, and if he or she really makes the thought as vivid as possible, eventually the subconscious will believe it is reality and allow the body to perform the skill.
Smith's youngest son Stephen was a bowler with a 120 average. Smith sat his son down and made him watch hours of videotape of top bowler Marshall Holman. He had his son focus on Homan's delivery and had him visualize making the same approach and motion when he bowled. "A week and a half later, Stephen was bowling in the 185 range," Smith said. "I had so many people tell me how much they thought he looked like Marshall Holman.
"At the Ventura County Junior Golf Championships, I had my son Al Jr. sit and look at the championship plaque, imagining his name on the plaque as the winner. He won the tournament."
Smith said the key to visualization is getting as many senses involved as possible. He said a golfer should not stop at thinking about making a putt. He should imagine the sound of the ball striking the putter, rolling along the grass and falling into the cup. "The more real the visualization and the more the subconscious mind believes it," Smith said. "Most people can use self-hypnosis and visualization to improve their lives. If you really believe in the ultimate outcome, there's a great chance for success," Smith said.
Without a doubt, it is the mind that determines the outcome of our performance and behavior. Working with me, you will benefit from multiple psychological principles and cutting edge mental techniques tailored specifically for golfers. In-person office sessions are available Monday-Saturday 9am to 8pm. I also do numerous hypnosis sessions for athletes worldwide by Skype with great success.
Call (424) 645-7517 today or send an email to arrange an appointment time!
“I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp picture of it in my head. First I see the ball where I want it to finish, sitting up high on the bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes, and I see the ball going there; its path, trajectory, even its behavior on landing. Then there is a sort of fade-out, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images into reality.”
___ Jack Nicklaus