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SEE IT, HEAR IT, FEEL IT, DO IT

One thing that is not easy to see when you watch really talented disc golfers, is that they are probably engaging in some form (or a variety of forms) of visualization. You would have to talk with individual golfers to learn what particular mental images they employ during a round. It would not be surprising to learn that they may visualize the whole tournament before it begins. If they have played it previously, they may visualize the course before they ever arrive in town. They most certainly visualize the particular flight path of the disc on it's journey to the basket. For many golfers this process od visualization is so natural that they may not be consciously aware that it is taking place. Particularly if they are a "natural athlete", they have probably been practicing the art of visualization since childhood, for every sport in which they played.

Visualization is a key component for success in disc golf, and just as with particular physical skills, the more you practice visualization, the better at it you will become. To practice effective visualization, make the scene as detailed as possible. By adding more and more visual and auditory detail, employing your senses of sight AND sound, you will experience more successful results. In fact, the key to heightening the effects of visualization is to include sight, sound, physical sensations, and positive emotional feelings.

Before going to the course for your next round, take a little time to sit or lie down. Close your eyes, and take a few minutes to focus on your breathing. Begin to see the course in your mind. Imagine taking a hot air balloon to the course; at first you are getting an aerial picture, so you can see the entire layout. As you move closer to the ground for the landing, notice as many details as possible, picturing the kind of grass that covers the ground, the soil, the rocks, the trees, and the terrain. See yourself playing each hole, choosing the best route to the basket. Next, see what you can add in for the auditory sensations. Is there a hum that comes from a nearby roadway? Is there the sound of a strong wind blowing through pine branches? Can you hear a snap as your throw a drive? Notice how natural and perfect each throw feels, and be aware of following through on each throw. Pay particular attention to how much fun you are having, how confident you are, how little pressure is present, how exciting and satisfying it is to play perfectly.

Practice visualizing each throw as if you were watching it on video. Every throw presents a unique scene, and you can either use the natural elements on the course to assist you, or add in elements that are not there at all to help outline the perfect flight path. Tube shots lined with trees actually make things easy-the flight path is naturally framed for you. If you have difficulty with tight shots, it probably has to do with placing your focus on the trees rather than the opening presented. Visualizing the route in a bright glowing color will lock your mind's attention on the desired flight path instead of on trees that line the fairway. Another idea would be to place an imaginary hula hoop strategically at a precise point in the narrow opening. For open holes you can imagine a dartboard or an archery target on the basket for your ultimate destination of your throw, or imagine the basket as an intense vacuum that sucks your disc into its vortex.

Once you have the target clearly marked and the flight path solidly constructed, see yourself executing the perfect shot on its journey to the hole. This employs aspects of your kinesthetic awareness as well. You can see your body as you go through the throw-like watching a video of yourself throwing. Make a note of any sounds that are key for you. It could be a swish as you make a throw, it could be a whistling, or a whirring as it travels through the air, and it will probably include the sound of the chains as the disc reaches it's mark. There could be the sound of other golfers, the wind, birds, or a river. to turn it up a notch, however, you are also able to feel yourself launching the perfect throw, thus employing aspects of your kinesthetic awareness. Now you still have one more step. Incorporate the inner feeling that you have felt on the most spectacular throw or performance you have actually experienced in real life. relish the ecstatic feeling of experiencing the perfect shot.

Practice visualizing daily in this manner off the course until it is a natural experience. As your ability to visualize becomes second nature to you, you will find yourself utilizing the same types of images on the course. Remember that you are not just visualizing images that you can see, but you are also focusing on sound, kinesthetic feelings, and internal emotional feelings.

At some point, you will be able to call up this ability on the course and reap the rewards. You may realize, after dedicated practice of this mental golf technique, that when you are left with a particular shot that you must make, you begin to see a difficult situation on the course as a challenge rather that a threat. You are excited about the opportunity to execute the throw; you will have that perfect internal emotion come alive. You will be living the visualization. In this particular state of applied visualization, you are having no negative thoughts. You are clearly seeing yourself successfully executing the throw. You will be focused on positive sounds and tuning out the sounds that could be distracting. You will feel the throw, following through naturally. When this all occurs, you will most likely make that shot.

by Lynne Warren of Disc Golf World New Magazine
Practicing Visualization