Want to improve your golf? Just think about it

Tue, Jun 5, 2012, 01:00

HAVE YOU ever pictured yourself scoring the winning point in the All-Ireland final? Just imagining it has already improved your chances of getting there.

Performance improvements in sports and other areas can come directly from what psychologists call “mental practice”. All of us can improve performance and sharpen concentration by using the power of our imagination, explained Prof Aidan Moran of University College Dublin.

He will give a talk in Dublin tomorrow about how athletes such as Wayne Rooney, Michael Phelps and Tiger Woods apply mental practice or imagery to make gains.

“For a long time psychologists have studied mental imagery. Mental imagery is quite a remarkable skill, the ability to simulate experiences we have not yet experienced,” said Prof Moran, who is professor of cognitive psychology and director of the psychology research lab at UCD.

“We have the ability to transcend time and space through our imagination. This is really remarkable.” Top athletes use their imagination to “see” and “feel” skills in their mind before taking part in sport, he said. “This mental practice sharpens their skills and helps them read the game better. Their performance can actually improve if they conduct mental practice before actually doing it.”

Brain scans reveal a major overlap in brain function whether we are participating in sport or only imagining participation in sport, he said. The talk takes place in Trinity’s arts block but all seats for this free lecture have unfortunately been allocated.