Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Improve Your Golf Game While Sitting On the Couch. The Golf Mind Set Series – Issue 3

Golf is one of those sports, in which success depends as much on your mind set, as it does on your physical ability. This series teaches you how to strengthen your mind set to fulfill your potential on the golf course.

This is the third blog in the Golf Mind Set Series. They can all be read independently but if you would like to find out more about improving your game, read Issue 1 and Issue 2.

We all have an inner monologue, happening all the time. We use self-talk almost every moment of every day, often without even being consciously aware of it. Unfortunately, sometimes we can speak to ourselves in a very negative way, which of course affects our mood and performance. Self-talk is very powerful. If a world class golfer had a little voice on his shoulder, for just one day, saying,
"You're going to screw it up,"
"It's going to be so embarrassing to miss that shot,"
even the world's best golfers are going to be affected by that and probably have a poor game, and that's just if they had negative self-talk for one day. If you are using negative self-talk a significant percentage of the time you step on to the course, of course you are going to mess things up.

Start to notice the way you talk to yourself in your own mind, both before the game and during it.

If you notice overly negative or critical statements, start to change them. Imagine you are a coach. What would you say to your client? Would you say these critical things to them? Or would you use more positive, motivational statements. Start to talk to yourself in your own mind as if you were your own coach, someone who has your best interests at heart.

It sounds simple, but changing the way we speak to ourselves in our own minds has a massive impact. Talking positively to yourself calms your nerves and puts you into a positive state of mind, and as you well know, so much of golf is about your state of mind.

Your state at any given moment will also affect your performance. When we refer to state we are talking about how you are in the present moment. How is your mind set? How are you using your body? How is your mood? You know sometimes you have been in a really wonderful state, you have felt on top of the world and your golf game has reflected this. Other times you have had a terrible week at work, stress at home and been in a tense state. Again, this will be reflected in your golf game. You might think that your state is beyond your control and you are a victim to your circumstances. However, this is not the case. You can learn to access a positive, resourceful state whenever you need to.

The first step is to become more aware of the differences between a good state, when you feel on top of the world and play a brilliant game, and a bad state when you fell tense, nervous and convinced you will fail. They way to become aware of these differences is to use a technique called Mindfulness. You can do this as follows:
  1. Close your eyes and take some deep slow breaths
  2. Start to count your breaths, one on your inhalation, two on your exhalation and so on up to ten. When you reach ten start again. 
  3. Pay attention to the physical sensations of your breathing. Notice where you feel the breathing. 
  4. Scan through your body and notice all the different physical sensations. 
  5. Now become aware of the sounds around you.
  6. Then become aware of your thoughts. Don't try to stop or control your thoughts. Just notice how they flit in and out of your mind. 
  7. Notice your mood and how you feel emotionally in this preset moment. Again you are not trying to stop or change it, just noticing your mood.
  8. Remember a time when you were at your peak, playing your best game of golf. Remember it as vividly as you can and use all your senses to really immerse yourself in the memory.
  9. Become aware of the following in your best game of golf:
    • How you were breathing
    • How you were speaking to yourself in your mind
    • What was your posture
    • What were you thinking about as you took the shot
    • What were your eyes focusing on
    • What speed did you swing
  10. Now imagine using all the same methods in a future game and see yourself playing the perfect game. 
This exercise helps you to become more aware of the difference between different states. Once you can identify how you do things in a peak state, you can adopt these strategies into all of your games. If your would like an audio file to guide you through this process, please get in touch here.

Please do let me know if you found this article useful and what else you would like to see included in the Golf Mind Set Series.