It’s the first warm, sunny day of spring. The grass on the golf course is growing. The greens and fairways are a bright green color. The daffodils and tulips have rapidly broken through the surface of the earth and are bursting with color. The trees are radiantly blooming with colors of white, pink and lavender. You can hardly wait to get to the golf course to play after staying indoors for the winter.
But have you prepared for this day? Are you physically and mentally prepared to go out and play well, and to enjoy the day?
Every sport is the same. When you have not participated in awhile, it is necessary to refresh your mind and body by going back and reviewing the basics. In order to be successful at golf, you need to have good fundamentals. These include the grip, posture, stance, ball position, alignment, and pre-shot routine. Good posture will allow you to swing your arms freely and your feet and ankles to be active and provide good balance. When you have good posture, it will be easier to have a proper swing plane. Following are some tips for mental and physical rehearsal to prepare you for the range and golf course.
Feel your Swing
Once you “know and own” your fundamentals, begin to “feel” the swing motion from the ground up through your body. The kinetic energy begins in your feet and flows upward connecting all parts in a rhythmic flow. It is important to feel relaxed in all parts of your body to achieve the flexibility so necessary for timing and club head speed. Your feet and ankles should be loose and relaxed as if you are swimming in warm water. This feeling will then cause a chain reaction upward into your knees, hips and upper body without any conscious thought of moving a particular part of your body.
To make solid contact with the ball requires good balance. When you have mastered your fundaments, it is time to swing the golf club (without a ball). Check your balance by swinging with your feet close together. If you lose your balance, swing the club slowly and smoothly until you develop the feeling of good rhythm. Developing good rhythm allows you to forget about the mechanics of the swing and sense how to swing so the clubface returns to its original square position on the path through to the target.
Swinging freely without tension produces high club head speed, coordination and more distance. Tension or tightness in any part of your body will produce low club head speed and less distance. Feel the centrifugal force in the swing rather than using brute force. Tell yourself to swing in a long, smooth, easy, effortless motion. Feel the pause at the top of the backswing to have time to change direction. Feel the natural release of the club head as it rotates back to square. Let the club head build up speed through the hitting area like a roller coaster going down a steep incline. Allow the club head to swing freely. Swing back and forth in a rhythmic motion, letting gravity do the work. When you sense this feeling of a rhythmic and coordinated swing, anchor it into your memory bank with a word like “easy” or a fist pump, or a feeling of confidence.
Believe in Your Putting Ability
Putting is the last stop at the train station. Putting can be up to 40% of your score. Once you miss a putt, it has to be counted in your score. On the way to the green there are numerous options to recover from missed shots, but not from a missed putt. Golfers’ nerves show up in their putting sooner than in other strokes. Now is the time to practice developing confidence in your ability to be a great putter so you don’t put pressure on your full shots to get the ball closer to the hole. Listening repeatedly to the PMI CD “Confident Putting for Lower Scores” (www.pmi4.com/cart) and rehearsing the feel and rhythm of your putting stroke indoors will prepare you for your return to the golf course.
The easiest and most effective way to practice is inside your mind, by imagining and repeatedly seeing the ball drop into the hole. Performance anxiety comes from your belief about yourself and the way you view your putting ability. First, change your thinking to believe that you can roll the ball well enough to give it a chance to go in. This means you must accelerate the putter through the ball on every size putt. Second, give every size putt the same attention. Third, focus your eyes on a mark on your ball, and don’t move your eyes until after you have hit the ball.
Develop a Consistent Pre-shot Routine
The whole point of learning a pre-shot routine is to make golf a reaction game. So by the time you get to the ball you won’t have to think and can just react. A pre-shot routine prepares you to LET GO of thinking, and to put your swing automatically into motion. A consistent pre-shot routine will produce consistent results on the golf course. Using the same pre-shot routine for every shot
- keeps your muscles relaxed,
- keeps away negative thoughts, and
- creates a habit that begins the process of swinging.
Play “in the zone” with Joan
Entrain Your Heart & Mind for Peak Performances
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“THE HEART OF GOLF, Access Your Supreme Intelligence for Peak Performances” explores and explains negative emotions such as fear and performance anxiety, the four Cs of mind blockage, the four progressive stages of learning the supreme intelligence of the heart, and the way to access the zone in competition. It is a player’s guide for developing your true inner self by returning to the joy and love of self instead of seeking praise and rewards from the outside world.