Aim & Alignment Series
The Golfers Mind
Play With The Edge
I already know what the mental edge can do for a golfer and it never fails to amaze me how few amateurs appreciate the importance of the mind and our thinking while playing a round. Perhaps this has traditionally been because the vast number of golf pro's teaching did not understand it so there was no way they were going to broach the subject with their clients. So the client gets taught swing mechanics and little else, perpetuating the amateur belief that swing mechanics are of primary importance and the Mental game really does not apply to them. Nothing could be further from the truth and I believe that Golf Coaches would do their clients a great service by teaching them a few sound mental tips and then focus on getting their short game into shape.
I was interested in a survey I read recently, conducted way back in 2000 by the National Golf Foundation which found that golfers who claimed to be using some form of mental game had an average handicap 4 shots lower than those who did not. I also believe that the same study conducted now in 2009 would show an even bigger gap. A lot has happened in sport psychology since 2000 and there are some very powerful and easy to implement strategies that can get you thinking and focusing like never before.
Earl Woods was asked what he believed separated Tiger from the others and he stated that Tigers advantage was more mental than physical. If you delve into Tigers mental training since he was a small child then some rather interesting things start to pop up. Hypnosis for one. Yes, you heard me correctly. Tiger was already using hypnosis to improve his play as a young man, working with a Marine Psychologist.
The fundamentals that you need to play your best golf are being calm and confident,
fully focused and committed to the shot with no thought of mechanics, results or
consequences of results. In other words you play without caring about the outcome.
You play your best by sticking to a process through each and every shot whilst maintaining
a calm and confident state. The best proponents of mental game will play as if it
doesn't matter when it matters the most. Nerves, tension, fear, anxiety, frustration
and anger, to name but a few emotional experiences, will get you no-
How many times I have watched a client make a good looking practice swing and then step up to the ball and make a swing that bears no resemblance at all to the practice swing. It's as if there are two different golfers and in many ways that's exactly what’s going on. The practice swing is smooth and relaxed with little thought as to execution, because there is no consequence of it. No ball is being struck. Shots will not be dropped or matches lost if the result is bad. The ego will not be damaged by hitting an ugly shot in front of other golfers or spectators.
Now as the golfer steps up to make the swing that connects with the ball, the swing which will decide the ball flight and result of the shot, the swing on which the ego rides, it's all change. The little enemies are back, fear, anxiety, ego and the rest all resulting in a tense and fearful swing which then produces the very thing the golfer was trying to avoid.
It's your conscious mind. That part of your thinking which diagnoses, dissects, reasons
and analyses. It is absolutely no good to you if you want to play your best golf.
You must employ your instinctive mind to make the golf swing and send the ball to
the target. The best way to do this is distract your conscious mind. Think about
the target, where the ball is going. Think about -
Think about and imagine the club head passing perfectly through the ball and sending it straight to the target. Imagine the sound of perfect contact and imagine the feeling when a ball comes straight out the middle. Do all of this thinking, while you make the swing.
This keeps your conscious mind actively working on and thinking about processes and
positives, while your instinctive, unconscious mind does what it does best, controls
a complex movement of many muscles needing perfect co-
In other words think about what you want but don't try and control how you swing to make that happen. Moving your body to achieve what you want is the job of the unconscious.
Dedicate yourself to learning the mental game of golf and you will move to new heights of the way you play golf, the results you get and the enjoyment you derive from what is a great game.
This is not the definitive article on mental game but I hope it has given you some
ideas and food for thought. If you have not read any Mental Game books yet then I
would suggest you start with Bob Rotella -
Remember, the mental game is like most aspects of life; the more you put in the more you get out. I hope you take this fascinating journey of putting your mind to work for you.
FIR's , GIR's & Blue Skies.
Author Mark Wright -
Copyright Mark Wright 2009
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