Golf courses are in the process of returning slowly to their summer conditions. Take a hint from nature and plan the return to your golf game by creating it one step at a time to develop your confidence.
It is important to participate in a spring training program before returning to the golf course after a lay-off. On the first warm, sunny day, golfers are in a hurry to get out and play. They invite frustration because they don’t take the time to prepare themselves mentally, emotionally and physically.
When you resume playing in the spring, do you expect to continue scoring the same way you did last summer? Or, do you expect to play poorly because you haven’t played in several months? Either way, you have mental and emotional distractions to correct before you tee off. Here are some reminders for building a strong golf game before you get to the golf course this spring.
Sitting in front of the fire watching golf on TV is not the best conditioning for springtime golf. If you haven’t swung a club in months, your physical body is not in the same condition it was before your break from the game. It is time now to strengthen the muscles that you will be using.
Stretching for Flexibility
The place to begin is by stretching out those dormant muscles. Before you hit any balls, stretch out your neck, back, arms, legs and core. This will go a long way toward preventing an injury to your body. Stretch slowly to warm up your muscles to prevent pulls and strains. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. Put together a routine that you can use before and after playing.
Every sport is the same. When you have not participated in a while, it is necessary to refresh your mind and body by 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. Review your basic mechanics and reacquaint your golf muscles before going to the range to hit full shots. 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.
Mental rehearsal or imagery is where your inner mind uses all your senses to create the event that you desire. The first ingredient to become more consistent in your golf game is perfect practice. Practice doesn’t make perfect, only perfect practice does. The best place to practice is in your imagination, mentally rehearsing perfection repeatedly, creating a habit. When you have mentally rehearsed doing something, it is already done except for the physical execution.
Develop a Consistent Pre-shot Routine
The whole point of learning a pre-shot routine is to make golf a reaction game so you don’t have to think when you are over the ball. Develop your own personal routine on paper and practice it indoors until it becomes habitual. 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.
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 must be counted in your score. On the way to the green there are numerous options to recover from missed shots, but none 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.
On the Practice Range
Don’t be in a hurry to hit a few balls and then rush to the course to play. Your mind and body are not in the same place they were last summer. Begin with wedge shots to access your tempo. Your golf muscles need to be activated slowly. Hit at 75% or less speed, working up to the longer clubs gradually. Hit to different targets for feedback. Go through your pre-shot routine on every shot to prepare your mind.
The Mental Game
Without mental preparation, the first day on the golf course could turn from joyous anticipation to frustration very quickly. Winners win in advance. They know how to direct their thoughts.
To have a consistently strong mental game means you need to prepare your thoughts and strategy long before you get to the golf course. Spring is a good time to look at your strategy so it will carry a good consistent mental game throughout the summer. Your spring training sessions could include:
Lower your expectations. Do not expect to play as you did at the end of last summer. Let go of all scoring expectations for the first few times you play and just enjoy being outdoors with friends. Realize that it will take time to regain your confidence and concentration. By letting go of expectations you will not have to deal with emotions of anxiety, frustration, embarrassment, etc. Making progress is the plan.
Breathe deeply before every shot to relax your mind and body. Remember to take a deep breath before every shot for focus in the present. Instead of trying to block out a distracting thought, move your attention to your breath. This will focus your attention away from the thought. When you are relaxed, begin your pre-shot routine.
You have been waiting all winter for this day. Don’t spoil it by putting pressure on yourself by having unrealistic expectations. Enjoy each good shot and let go of the mishits. Enjoy all aspects of the golf course. Play from your heart and have fun playing the game of getting the ball into the hole in the fewest possible strokes. Be patient and wait for the low scores to happen.
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 belief 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.
“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.
“THE HEART OF GOLF” is a guidebook for transforming your life and golf game.
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