In sport, having the confidence and belief that you are the best player will drive you to succeed. Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have all said that often the key to their game was all in their heads.
If you don’t believe that you are gonna make that pressure shot then you never will!
It’s probably the biggest problem affecting professional golfers today. The technique and ability is there but the mind is holding the player back.
Call it a mental block, the yips or stress – it affects every player at some point during their career.
It can have a devastating impact on a player’s career, and in some circumstances, it can lead to early retirement, a slip down the rankings, or even a loss in sponsorship.
So how do you prevent this from happening to YOU?
You can combat the mental struggles of your game in a ton of ways – BUT – while some are affective, others are placebos and can negatively impact your game.
What is universally agreed upon is POSITIVE VISUALISATION… To those who don’t know what this is, it’s a simple exercise you can practice anywhere. You need to visualise yourself sinking a big putt, chipping onto the green or getting out of the bunker in one clean shot.
If you can imagine yourself making that shot over and over again, it creates positive reinforcement. It will give you the confidence to make that shot over and over again.
So I got to thinking and put together a few faults that I know some of you have, and listed some quick fixes to help you out.
Fault: Lack of Concentration
“I have a hard time staying focused, even though I love the sport.”
Problem: Distractions are part of the game, whether it’s your golf partner chatting while you’re setting-up, or there’s a car alarm going off in the club parking lot.
Fix: One way to become mentally tougher is to practice in a hectic environment.
Try to focus on the shot itself and each detail of your pre-shot routine, despite the loud distractions (focusing on the little details will help to clear your mind). Repeat practice with distractions and you’ll get so used to the environment that you’ll be able to keep your focus despite them.
Fault: Missing shots and fluffing strokes
Problem: No matter how hard you try you just cant sink that 3ft putt or you can’t get out of the bunker in less than 5 strokes. Often the problem is in your head.
Fix: I’ve outlined a few steps to help you get out of your head and help you to enjoy the game that you love.
Step 1: It’s only a game
At the end of the day, this is where your mental game matters most And by putting unnecessary pressure on yourself your’e putting your nerves to the test.
Instead, remind yourself that golf is a sport that you actually enjoy and that it’s just a game. (Sometimes, if i’m feeling particularly stressed, I repeat ‘it’s just a game’ to myself to keep my head) This approach will help put everything back into perspective for you.
Step 2: Breathe
This one may seem obvious – but there’s science behind it!
When you’re feeling stressed, your body responds with ‘fight or flight’ chemicals. So, by taking a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, your heart rate decreases in spite of the stressful situation that you’re in.
Try breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. Then, for an added benefit trying counting slowly as you exhale.
Step 3: Move on!
I’m sure you’re thinking – ‘Recover? You don’t!’
But, stick to the game plan – get yourself to the pin (eventually) and then move onto the next fairway, leaving all that negative energy behind you.
And while there’s no vanishing act you can do on the points you’ve wracked-up on the hole, you’re not going to make it any better by punishing yourself further.
I probably don’t need to tell you about the impact that ‘the game between your ears’ has on your physical game.
And, while the expression “golf is 90% mental” may be a *slight* exaggeration, your mental approach to the game is directly responsible for how successfully you can execute your physical technique (confidence, composure and calmness are all attributes of the world’s greatest golfers, after all!)
Thing is, the mental game is about much more than shaking your AG tendencies…
Even if you do check your ego and anger at the first tee, your state of mind can still ruin a perfectly good game… and usually for reasons you can’t quite pinpoint.
It’s one thing to be able to keep your emotions under control, but it takes a truly talented player to understand and overcome the less obvious mental barriers to on-course success.
Bottom line: Mastering the mental side of golf is the key to reaching your true potential (and the low scores you deserve!)
To help you do that, I will be releasing a new guide called Think to Win. You’ll get ready-to-use advice and tips for improving your mental golf skills, including:
- 3 quick-fire mental game tips from the pros
- Simple steps for calming your mind on the course
- Common mental mistakes (and how to avoid them!)
- 4 key thoughts to get you around the course
We’ll be publishing more tips to overcome the dreaded mental block so stay tuned. They’re for you if you’ve been struggling to lower your scores or if you feel like you’ve hit an invisible wall and you’re just not sure how you can improve your game.