New study shows golfers can improve their performance just by watching video of an expert putting a ball and imagining they are going through the same motions
- Researchers at the University of Limerick tested the putting ability of golfers
- Some subjects were shown a video of an expert hitting a ball toward the hole
- Golfers who watched the video first outperformed the control group that hadn’t
A new study from the University of Limerick suggests that athletes can improve their sporting abilities through the power of imagination alone.
Researchers measured the performance of 44 golfers who had recorded handicaps with the Golfing Union of Ireland, the sport’s regulatory body in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The golfers were divided into two groups and sent out onto a green at Ballyneety Golf Course in Limerick.
Researchers at the University of Limerick found that golfers improved their putting performance if they first watched video of an expert performing the same task
They were set fifteen feet from the hole and asked to putt the ball as close to the target as possible.
The golfers were recorded by three-dimensional ultrasound cameras to measure their effectiveness, according to a report by Eureka Alert.
One group served as the control, and a second was shown a video of an expert golfer performing the putting task while certain short sentences and keywords played as a voiceover.
These key phrases described the relevant sensorimotor feelings associated with the putting motion.
The golfers who had watched the video beforehand ended up generally outperforming the control group.
‘The findings suggest that simply viewing a video of another performing an action may bolster one’s ability to imagine and subsequently perform that action,’ researcher Niall Ramsbottom told Eureka Alert.
Researchers asked the subjects to putt a ball from fifteen feet away and try to get as close to the hole as possible
Putting is a sensitive action that benefits from a high degree of kinaesthetic control and sensitivity, and not coincidentally it’s a key part of high level golf competition.
Approximately 43 percent of all strokes taken in a golf game are with a putter, and the PGA identifies putting ability as one of the most important factors in determining a professional player’s earnings.
‘We found, kinaesthetic imagery ability – an individual’s ability to imagine the feel of an action without actually performing it – may have an important role in determining the effectiveness of the exercise on putting performance,’ Ramsbottom said.
‘Putting is a feel-based motor skill and our research suggests that those with good kinaesthetic imagery ability may perform better following this mental practice technique.’