Golf Is A Mental Game
To play golf well you need to conquer the mental side of the game as well as the technical side. This is what sets the great players apart from the average or good players. This article provides some great tips for controlling your golfing mind.
Manchester (I-Newswire) March 10, 2011 - Golf isn’t just about techniques like ‘swinging on plane’ or ‘rolling the wrists’. The mental game also has a large part to play – i.e. controlling those inner demons that either tell you “You will never make a golfer!”, or, equally as bad, “You’ve finally cracked it – this game’s easy for you.”
One of the all time golfing greats, Arnold Palmer, once famously said “Golf is a game of inches – the toughest six are between your ears!” I can definitely relate to that, as I am sure you can.
The articles below provide a few great tips for helping you to conquer this important part of the game. If you are willing to put some more time and effort into this pursuit, which I believe is a very good idea, then you could do much worse than reading the all-time classic on the subject – The Inner Game of Golf by W. Timothy Gallwey.
Manage Your Expectations by Gary Leboff:
You may recognise this scenario. It’s a beautiful morning as you stride onto the tee. The sun is shining, your game is just where you want it to be and you fully expect to shoot the lights out.
Four hours later, it’s all gone to pot. One mistake has led to another, confidence evaporated as the round wore on and the scorecard is as average as ever.
A golfer’s form is rarely predictable, but most play well when expectations are lowest. One of the pivotal jobs for a sports psychologist is to provide a foundation for consistent performance from which excellence can regularly emerge.
Here’s a question even the pros get wrong: when does a round of golf begin?
The first tee is far too late; golf is not like a light bulb that can be turned on and off. Nor is the answer a) on the practice range, b) putting on your spikes, or even c) driving to the club.
A round of golf begins between 12 and 18 hours before you get to the course. At a conscious or subconscious level, most golfers are anticipating, contemplating or stressing about their round almost a day in advance.
I need to return to the topic of “intensity” that I covered in my very first column. I ask sportspeople for a number out of 10 to describe how intense they feel when entering the competitive arena. Ten is ideal for boxers, footballers should aim for a seven – but golfers who score themselves above a three are too agitated.
Staying calm when you need to demands preparation. Signs of excessive intensity include rushing your food, driving too fast and shortness of breath.
Eat slower, walk slower, breathe slower, be slower. The choice is yours – do what you’ve always done and you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.
Mind Games by Phil Price:
Golf is a game of confidence. When you play well, you think and see positive things happening to you during the round. You don’t dwell on negative thoughts and destructive images. If you do, they have a habit of becoming reality. The trick is to learn to think in positives and use the power of your mind to help you to play your best golf.
With the help of the sports psychologist Alan Fine, I have developed several techniques that help me to stay focused on the course. Particularly in the area of the short game, where your expectations are high and your nerves more likely to influence your performance, these mental games can help you to withstand pressure and score to your full potential.
PUTTING – the ‘back-hit’ exercise:
There is nothing new about this mental exercise, which has its origins in Timothy Gallwey’s best-selling book, The Inner Game of Golf. If you haven’t read it, I recommend that you try to get hold of a copy.
The back-hit drill is a simple means by which you take your mind off the task of striking a short putt into the hole, and instead think about the much easier task of saying ‘back’ and ‘hit’ at the corresponding moments in your stroke. When I feel under pressure, I simply say ‘back’ to correspond with the length of the back swing (left), and ‘hit’ to coincide with the moment the putter-head strikes the ball (right). Sometimes I say these words in my mind, sometimes out loud.
The reason this exercise works so well is that when your mind is pre-occupied with the timing of these words relative to the stroke, it is not second-guessing your ability to make the putt, or doubting your ability to withstand pressure. Your mind is focused, and that enables you to execute a smooth and positive stroke.
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Published On:March 10, 2011
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