NLP for golf…a new technology for performance

Ian Woosnam is one of my favorite golfers. Why? Well, there’s 2 reasons. One of them is because he is only 5 foot 4 inches tall and out drove most other pros of his time. (See there’s hope for us little guys!). But more importantly, in the beginning of his career, he won many big tournaments, including the Masters and became the number 1 player in 1991. But an interesting thing happened after that. His game then severely deteriorated for some years until he made a dramatic comeback. What happened to spark his comeback? He started working with a practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP for short)! If you’ve never heard of that before, you’re probably thinking that I’ve now completely lost my cookies right?

Well, that’s why I am telling you about a world-class pro who discovered it and uses these techniques even today to “bring back” the game he had in his early years when he won regularly.

So what the heck is this NLP stuff? NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It means using language to communicate with your mind to achieve an outcome. The best common-sense description I can give is this: a bunch of scientists spent a lot of time studying people who were very successful at different things including money, sport, psychology, and family therapy. They then found that these people had specific ways of thinking and running their brain that most people do not. They then took these “techniques” and taught them to average folks and found that they worked, better than expected and with very little effort on the subject’s part.

This is obviously a simplification as many have spent years learning and applying what has been discovered in NLP since it’s beginnings only a few decades ago. But, in case you missed it, I’ll mention again that NLP has been used very successfully to increase performance in many sports. Is there a sport out there where you must use your brain more than golf? I don’t think so and this is why Ian Woosnam and many others are now just “discovering” what NLP has to offer.

Here’s the bottom line to how NLP can help you. We’ve all had good shots with each of our clubs before right? AND, on top of that, we’ve watched others have good shots with their clubs right? Well, certain things are happening to your body and mind when you are performing well, that’s a fact. And if you know what to look for and pay attention, then the next time you want to accomplish the same thing, you must do EVERYTHING like you did that time you were successful. Most importantly is that you must take direction in running your brain instead of just being a like a leaf in the wind and having your emotions take you every which way as you sometimes struggle through a round.

Here’s an excellent quick tip that is based on an NLP principle called “Anchoring” or “Associations”. Try to remember back to the last time you had a great round or even a good string of holes. What was going on in your head? Did you have a pleasant thought running through your mind like maybe a song you like? Or maybe a dream about winning the lottery? Or maybe you just actually got a raise the day before. You can now “link” that thought or song to playing outstanding golf. Now, I wouldn’t immediately go out every round and and try to always think that thought or sing that song to myself because you will not always play well while using that link and then it will slowly lose it’s linkage to that great round you had. Instead, wait another time or two for when you play well, even if only a few good shots. And THEN bring that thought back up.

You see, what you will be doing is “CHARGING” that thought or song up with your optimum performance state. And when you really really need to release some of that “charge” and call up some good golf like in a pressure situation, it will be there for you and your body will respond just like Pavlov’s dogs did to the dinner bell by salivating.

This is just one small example of how we can use NLP to help our game. Many books on NLP have been written and if you want to read one specifically for golf by Ian Woosnam’s coach, it’s called “Masterstroke, use the power of your mind to improve your golf with NLP” by Harry Alder.

I am always learning and studying NLP today and have completed certification courses as an NLP Master and Trainer. In addition to NLP, In my training, I discovered what is called “Time Line” techniques” and found it to be extremely useful for sports performance. Some sports psychology coaches use nothing but Time Line techniques for their clients. Stay with me and I’ll keep giving you some more of this mental magic in future emails.. I’d like to continue giving you more detail on what you’ve read so far and an avalanche of golf score improvement tips you’ve never seen anywhere before.

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I found the information to be helpful especially the parts dealing with the mind. I tend to become too technical with my swing and focusing more on the target has helped tremendously. Shortly after buying your CD last year I did break 80 for the first time. I shot a 79 from the white tees. I find the parts about NLP very intriguing.
Ray Bernacchia, New Haven CT