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Golfers can improve their putt with 'bigger look at hole'


April 4, 2012 - Washington

Golfers looking to improve their putting may find an advantage in visualizing the hole as bigger, a new study has claimed.

For the first time, Jessica K. Witt from Purdue University, looked at how manipulating what athletes see could influence their immediate performance.

"People in our study made more successful putts in a smaller hole when a visual illusion helped them perceive it as larger," Witt said.

"We know that how people perceive the environment affects their ability to act in it, such as scoring as basket or hitting a baseball, and now we know that seeing a target as larger leads to improved performance.

"More work is needed to better understand this effect, but we think the perceived increase in target size will boost confidence in one's abilities," she said.

Witt's previous work has shown how perception and performance work together in softball, tennis and football. For example, softball players who hit the ball better saw it as bigger, and people successfully kicking a football through the goal posts saw the target as larger.

In this golf study, 36 participants putted to two different-sized holes while a projector displayed a ring of smaller and larger circles around each hole to create an optical illusion.

The smaller circles around the hole made it look bigger. Before putting, the person's perception of each hole was measured by having them draw the estimated size of the hole.

Their perception was correlated with their scores, and those who saw the smaller hole, which was 5.08 centimetres in diameter, as bigger putted about 10 percent more successfully.

"A future goal is to develop techniques to help athletes see their target differently.

"Effects of these visual illusions will then lead to improvements in performance," she added.

The study has been published in Psychological Science.

ANI

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