Golf Psychology - Pre-Shot Routine - OSVEA

Iain Highfield
  • Author: Iain Highfield
  • GLT Director of Education
Facebook Twitter Share Email Print
Joe Culverhouse
  • Author 2: Joseph Culverhouse
  • Manager - GLT Content and Communications
jack osvea


In today's installment of the GLT golf psychology series, The Mental Game of Golf, Iain Highfield, GLT's Director of Education, takes the keyboard and gives an overview of his OSVEA pre-shot routine process.  

Modeling is a subject I remain fascinated by, and one that many coaches I know are striving to create through the way we teach. Broadly speaking, what I gathered from my studies was that any type of human behavior can be modeled through mastering the beliefs, physiology and specific though processes that inhibit a particular skill or behavior. In even simpler terms, it’s about achieving an outcome through studying how others go about achieving it.

Most certainly, this approach is applied to a player’s golf swing (Ben Hogan’s swing being a particularly popular model.) It is not, however, applied to their golf game.

Click Here For GLT's FREE Golf Psychology Online Course. 

But, in reality, modeling just a great player’s swing, or any individual component of their game, feels incomplete, even one-dimensional. What about the way other elements, of both Hogan’s game and character, which made him such an outstanding player? These are the aspects that are strangely forgotten as coaches try to model their students on the greats.

It was this seemingly fatal flaw that lead me to pressure modeling in my coaching, not in terms of an isolated aspect of a player, but by considering their entire process. My findings were remarkably simple, but have helped myself and Matthew Cooke develop an extremely effective coaching method we call OSVEA.

Imagine for a moment a player with the ability to asses Options and make Selections with the detail and discipline of Bernard Langer. Now, add the ability to Visualize the shot like Jack Nicklaus, a golfer who took his own mind “to the movies” before every shot, effectively watching himself swing and seeing the ball land precisely where we intended. Combine this with the ability to Execute a shot like Tiger Woods in his prime, a golfer whose ability to respond to the immediate task (never the situation the task was packaged in) is almost unrivaled in the history of the sport. And, finally, we sprinkle in a little of Jason Dufner and his ability to maintain a state of optimum arousal and performance, simply by Accepting everything that comes his way on the golf course.

We (Team GLT) believed this model would help junior golfers and we began to teach a 12-year-old boy using the OSVEA framework. We quickly noticed how impactful it was, not only on his performance, but on his enjoyment of the game.

GLT's free PDF Quickstart of Golf's Mental Game is available here

The principles are straightforward. Every PGA Tour Professional undoubtedly takes in huge volumes of information for all the external variables that can impact a shot. These are, simply put, the conditions. Some of these pros even pay great sums to professional caddies to support that analytical process.

Once the data is assimilated, the elite player looks first at the shot Options that are now most appropriate to the requirements of the task. Then, he or she makes a shot Selection, a decision that not only considers which club to use, but elements such as flight, shape and a series of significant targets.

What happens next is that the elite tour pro enters what is effectively an imaginary world, one that is comprised of sight, sound and touch. This sensory state is known as Visualization, and it enables our golfer to complete a free and fluid Execution, the penultimate stage of the process.

Finally, the player must Accept the outcome, effectively acknowledging what has happened, and moving on to the next shot with a clear mind. Then, the process is replicated shot after shot until the round is complete.

What this meant to me was that to truly model excellence and enable that very highest level of performance in its entirety, these 5 OSVEA components of a golf shot – Options, Selections, Visualization, Execution and Acceptance – are precisely what we should internalize in our students.

A player that develops this kind of pre- and post-shot routine on every shot, no matter how high the stakes, will develop the ability to achieve the kind of connection between mind and body that precedes anything approaching a Hogan-esque swing.    

In the next installment of the golf psychology series, Iain Highfield is with us again to discuss the O & S of OSVEA, and their role withing golf's mental game.