Amateur and professional golfers alike are frustrated when they hit balls well on the practice range and then play poorly on the golf course. What is different on the golf course? The nice and smooth, compact, rhythmic swing on the range is replaced with a more forceful, longer swing with more body movement as the round progresses.
Most golfers want to be more consistent with their swings in the belief that it will produce lower scores. To do this demands mental and physical practice. This requires mental knowledge and discipline to not speed up during the round. The faster swing might be the result of overconfidence, impatience, or fear. A longer swing might be the result of pressing and wanting to hit the ball further. It is important to maintain a constant tempo and stick with a consistent preshot routine to put you into a confident state to maintain the swing that you spent so much time practicing.
Differences between warming up and playing include:
Ø On the range there is no penalty for a mishit. When a golfer mishits a shot on the range, s/he just tees up another ball and tries to figure out what went wrong. There is no “second serve” on the golf course. There isn’t a coach to tell you what went wrong.
Ø Having to count every stroke is stressful. On the range there is nothing to worry about. There are consequences on the course. The consequences on the golf course put pressure on you and cause tension and tightness in your swing. Trying to avoid mistakes causes tension. Trying to make something happen causes stress.
Ø Golfers worry about the results. A golfer’s emotional state can be ruined by a belief that one bad hole will determine the outcome. On the course, golfers think about results instead of staying in the process of how to achieve what they desire.
Ø Golfers don’t play the way they practice. On the golf course golfers go through a preshot routine to prepare their minds and bodies for each shot. They rarely get behind the ball and execute a preshot routine on the range. It is important to practice the preshot routine until it becomes a habit. A consistent routine will produce consistent results.
Ø Golfers forget to have fun on the golf course. Fun and great results happen when a golfer relaxes and trusts that s/he can reproduce what they have practiced and learned. The enjoyment happens when you are totally engrossed in the process of creating the desired shot or putt.
Use your mind to send correct messages to your body
The majority of golfers are deficient in their preshot preparation. Most golfers consider the preshot routine boring, unnecessary, and too much work to develop. Using the same routine every time requires discipline until it becomes a habit. Without a good routine, your results are going to be inconsistent and erratic. It can wreck your score.
Using the same pre-shot routine every time will help you stay focused. Preparing for a shot is like creating a map or a blueprint for what you desire to create. The preshot routine is composed of a series of movements and sensory feelings that give you a way to automatically execute your shots. These routines are the maps that give direction to your brain and body about what you want to do.
When you lose your swing on the golf course, you need to go back to the routine because you have deviated from your map and are going in a different direction and getting a different result. Some of these deviations are fear thoughts of avoiding hazards, fear of embarrassment, fear of failure, frustration at slow play, annoyances from other players, weather conditions and anxiety feelings about your performance or score. Your focus is then on the distractions and not on preparing your mind and body for the shot.
I like to think of the pre-shot routine as a series of actions that move you from behind the ball to the place over the ball where you are eager to swing. When you are concentrating well, you are not thinking. You are totally absorbed in the routine process of getting the ball to the target. When you use the same routine each time, you then have control of your thinking and send correct messages to your body.
A mind that is busy, restless or indecisive will find it difficult to concentrate on an activity. The first step toward improved concentration would be to quiet your mind. When it is your turn to hit, turn on your focus by going into your established pre-shot routine to keep your mind from wandering.
Keys for playing consistently:
Ø On the range, simulate playing the first three holes. Hit the clubs you will need as you simulate playing the first three holes on the course. This will make you more familiar with playing the course and get you off to a good start.
Ø Use your preshot routine. Pick your target carefully for each club and go through your preshot routine before every shot. Imagining the golf holes, use the club to play each subsequent shot depending on where the initial one landed.
Ø Decide to play the game of golf. On the golf course, play golf, not golf swing. Release all tendencies to think about how to create the smooth swing you had on the range. Leave all thoughts of mechanics on the range and if necessary, only think one swing thought during your swing. Concentrate on making solid contact.
Ø Access your relaxed Arousal Level. Breathe deeply to slow down your busy thinking mind and focus on accessing your tempo. Take your practice swing with your feet together to feel the correct balance and tempo.
Ø Trust that this process will work for you. Feel it! Believe it! Enjoy it!
Play “in the zone” with Joan
Entrain Your Heart & Mind for Peak Performances
To train your brain to play your best golf, listen to Positive Mental Imagery self-hypnosis guided imagery CDs in the privacy of your own home. Available at www.pmi4.com/cart
If you aren’t able to maintain trust and believe in yourself on the golf course, email Joan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828.696.2547 for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation about developing a new strategy. Learn what is missing in your golf game so you can achieve the success you desire.
A new golf book for improving your mental game, “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. It shows how to trust and use abilities that you know you have, and to have fun doing it.
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