The Power of Imagery


* Ace Member *
Oct 25, 2021
The power of imagery - from drills to the course

While working hard to translate footwork, the weight shift, and vertical and horizontal force onto the course, I scanned older posts and realized that this might be an interesting dedicated thread. There are aspects of imagery we can learn and exploit (e.g., see this excellent thread on pre-shot routines). I'd love to hear more about folks' broader use of imagery in their game.

An Ultiworld interview with sports psychologist Dr. Mike McCall briefly covers some uses of imagery in sports:

An example problem
In my case, I've been shifting from behind and revisiting skaters & their variants. Getting the smooth yet abrupt and mechanically correct weight shift is hard for many players.

In this forum, we sometimes talk about being "light on the toes" like a waltz dancer heading into the plant and swing. You also want "pogo-legs" that function like stiff springs and help you transfer force from stride to stride, into the plant, and up the chain. You also want to "crush the can" going into the plant.

Getting these concepts to work together can be pretty challenging depending on your movement background. How can we learn to do all of this well & make sure our learning makes it onto the course? Drills are often critical. In addition, I'm finding that specific imagery about form models on the tee can help when you're learning and trying to get stuff to translate into the game.

Using imagery to translate drills
On the course, I'm finding it helpful to have a small set of pro examples I'm familiar enough with to clearly, effortlessly* visualize, and emulate bits and pieces from each to improve my learning.

For instance, some of us will more naturally like to stride like Eagle, get a big vertical motion like GG, or be high and athletic on the balls of feet/toes like KJUSA. Your footwork might draw from each of the variants depending on your overall style or specific shot. Like all top pros, they're all moving their CoG forward light and fluidly ahead of the feet smoothly and abruptly into the weight shift, and their core motion patterns in the swing are the same. How can imagery help exploit lessons from the variations?

You can "hang" different swing thoughts to different players and cue them up as part of your mental pre-shot ritual. Focusing on one and only one thing with visual imagery is really efficient - the automatic stuff your body already does well will just tend to happen, and you can work on that one thing you've been drilling hard with a "decluttered" mind.

The visual swing thought - For example, I had a round yesterday where I spent 30 minutes warming up with weight shift drills, and chose to have my only "swing thought" during the round be the weight shift. I was interested to find that my body has started to develop different natural tendencies depending on the intended line, and I could call up different player visualizations for each one in my head. Low-line straight shot? I thought of Calvin or Eagle - stretch out long, quick, and low into a running-back-like can crush. A big, high ceiling turnover? More GG, higher hop into can crush. Short teepad with a forward punch? Higher on the drive foot toes like KJUSA into a forward/horizontal drive and drop into the crush. Every time, all I wanted was to achieve that smooth-but-abrupt weight shift regardless of the line and rhythm of the swing.

For the musically inclined, you can also find music in the motion - if you can "see" the music, it's easier for your body to achieve. E.g., SW22 saw my "smooth dancer" tendencies and noted that I need more "Krumping". When I felt my weight shift getting wimpy in the round, KJUSA suddenly came to mind. He's now my Kaptain Krump. He's athletic and rhythmic, and he has almost a "staccato" note in his movement - the slightly sharp and abrupt part of his entire walk up motion and weight shift make it easier for my imagery to translate the drill into the swing. So even if I find it easier to move more like GG overall heading into the plant as my "stock" motion pattern, thinking of KJUSA gets me Krumpin'.

Helpful gifs illustrating what I visualize above:
I pulled this side-by-side gif* of bombs from GG vs. Eagle from OTB 43 skins.

And KJUSA Krumpin' when mashing a max distance drive in a competition.

While this camera angle is less helpful for form reviews, I really like it for gaining a "3D" imagery of pro rhythms & how similar the swing motion is despite variations.

Really curious how others use imagery in their practice and their game. Go!

*The effortless part is really important - in imagery treatment in clinical psychology and sports psych training, the cleaner the visual image & easier/more automatic it is to call up, the more useful it is. I guess watching all that coverage pays off!
**(sorry about lack of embedding - I tried bb code for
My imagery is always 1 shot behind. I am very good at realizing which form element I should have just focused on.

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