Hypnotist Laura King has been around golf courses and golfers for most of her life. In the past couple of years Laura King has dedicated herself to helping golfers and other athletes improve their performance, using her professional hypnotherapy skills as a sports hypnotist.
What hypnotist Laura King likes to emphasize to people, whether they are listening to her hypnosis CD's, seeing Laura King at her hypnotherapy office, or reading golf hypnosis articles, is always the same: The single most important and effective thing that any athlete can do to improve their performance is to change negative thoughts into positive, empowering self-talk.
Self-talk is exactly what it sounds like. It’s our internal dialogue – the words we use when we speak to ourselves either in our own minds or out loud.
It’s been established by neuroscientists and psychologists that most people carry on an ongoing dialogue, or self-talk, of between 150 and 300 words per minute. They have been able to show that this works out to somewhere around 50,000 thoughts per day. Most of this self-talk consists of the mundane, routine, and harmless thoughts we all have such as “I’m hungry,” or “I need to get my hair cut soon.”
The danger for golfers and other athletes is when this internal dialogue takes on a negative connotation such as, “I’ll never be as good as she is,” “I’ll never be able to hit more than one or two straight drives in a round,” or “I don’t even belong playing on this course.” When this kind of self-talk becomes ongoing, we create limiting beliefs about ourselves and about our abilities that may, if left unchecked, go on to become self fulfilling prophecies.
For those of you who are academic-minded, consider the Expectancy Theory, which states that you don’t always get what you want, or what you work for, but you will more often than not get what you expect. If you expect to slice a drive, you will. If you don’t expect to sink the putt, you won’t.
If you prefer examples from sports legends, you might be interested in the opinion of famous ice skater Scott Hamilton, who says that when an athlete is under pressure, they perform 30% better or worse depending upon their self-talk.
Leading up to and during a round of golf, you give yourself hundreds, maybe even thousands, of suggestions. What Laura King has been able to do with her “Improve Your Golf Game” hypnotherapy session is to help you “program your mind” to make sure that your self-talk at these times is always positive and reflects your true talents and abilities as opposed to your fears and insecurities.
There are many “self-talk mistakes” that golfers commonly make when preparing for and playing the game. Read through each of these and see if any of them apply to you or someone you know.
Focusing on the past or future: “I’ve never hit better than a double bogey on this hole.” “I can’t believe how badly I misjudged the slope on that green.” These are classic examples of not letting go of past mistakes. It is just as counterproductive to worry about what may happen, as well. Have you ever stood over the ball and worried so much about missing your shot that it happened? Of course you have. Laura King doesn't know many golfers who don’t do that all the time! Remember that, as a competitor, you can always have complete control over the present moment, and that’s where your thoughts need to be.
Thinking only of the outcome: “I need to win,” or, “I need to improve my handicap” are thoughts about the outcome, something that we have little control over. What you do have control over, however, is performance. Try changing your self-talk to focus on what needs to be done to turn in your best possible performance, and trust that the outcome will take care of itself.
Demanding perfection: Avoid saying to yourself, “This needs to be a perfect shot,” or berating yourself for small mistakes on previous holes. All athletes make mistakes, but it is the really great ones who can make a mistake and continue their performance unfazed. It is great to work towards perfection if that’s what motivates you, but it’s unrealistic to expect a perfect performance every time out.
Chances are you’ve experienced a few of these common self-talk mistakes in the past, or know others who have. But how do you actually change your self-talk to be more positive? We can’t really control the thoughts that come into our heads, right?
There are two ways to eliminate negative self-talk. One is through a process commonly referred to as “thought stopping,” which involves four steps: (1) Become aware of self talk; (2) Stop the negative; (3) Replace with positive; and (4) Practice the act of stopping negative thoughts.
For thought stopping to be effective, however, it requires lots and lots of practice. The way we think and speak to ourselves can be a terribly hard habit to break, considering it’s been that way our entire lives. To improve your self-talk this way, you really need to work hard to learn to recognize when you’re engaging in negative self-talk, then equally as hard at stopping those thoughts and replacing them with positive ones.
The second way that you can eliminate your negative self-talk requires very little effort at all because you use your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind is what tells you that you need to stop at a red light, or to pedal the bike to make it go, or even to breathe. These are actions that, over time, cease to require conscious thought and seem to happen on their own.
My CD's and tapes allow athletes to access their subconscious mind and fill it with positive suggestions in order to improve performance in their sport. Hypnotist Laura King invites you to visit her website to learn more about the subconscious mind and how golf hypnosis and self-hypnosis can help you access it.
Laura King thinks you’ll be amazed at how much better you perform when healthy, positive, encouraging, confident self-talk occupies your thoughts. “What you think is what you become” might be somewhat clichéd, but it’s very true. So give it a try!
Order your golf hypnosis series and golf hypnotherapy CD's today!