London–Researchers have found that kinaesthetic ability — which is an individual’s ability to feel an action without actually performing it, may improve their golf game.
“Our results indicate that a form of mental practice, i.e, the combination of action observation and motor imagery, may enhance the golf putting ability of experienced golfers,” said researcher Niall Ramsbottom from University of Limerick in Irelan.
Putting ability is crucial in golf as approximately 40 per cent of golf strokes are taken with the putter.
The research, published in the journal Psychology of Sports and Exercise, shows that golfers who already had a good ‘feel” for putting, may benefit the most from this mental practice.
In undertaking the research, 44 right-handed, skilled male golfers from the Limerick were recruited.
In a laboratory environment, the golfers completed 40 putts with instructions to ‘make the ball stop as close to the target as possible’.
A three-dimensional ultrasound camera was used to record the putting and statistical analysis was conducted, using specialised software.
A subset of golfers looked at an action observation video which consisted of an expert golfer performing the putting task in the same lab environment.
They did so while listening to a motor imagery script consisting of short sentences describing key visual and kinaesthetic feelings associated with performing the putting the task.
“Having completed these simple exercises, the golfers who were found to have better kinaesthetic imagery (KI) ability benefited more from the mental practice intervention than those with poorer KI ability,” explained Ramsbottom.
“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 added.
Putting is a feel-based motor skill and the research suggests that those with good kinaesthetic imagery ability may perform better following this mental practice technique.
“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,” he said.