Friday, February 17, 2012

Five Ways To Strengthen The Mental Game

"Five Ways To Strengthen The Mental Game"
By Sean & Stef Mysel
2/17/12


Golf unlike any sport in the world relies more heavily on the space between your ears than it does any physical talent.  In this game, you can take someone who couldn't make the high school football or baseball team but they can still star on the course and make some big time dollars.  How?  Mentally LPGA and PGA Touring pros know how to handle adversity and success all at the same time.  How do they do it?  Here's some thoughts:

1)  Becoming Brain Dead During Swing -  Remember when Tiger Woods began to struggle and mentioned that he had "mechanical" thoughts?  Well I would be willing to bet that instead of being mechanical and just hitting the ball, he tried to think his shot down the fairway or into the cup.  It's best to do all of our thinking before the shot and let it go when we set up.  After that, we just let our animal or as I love to call it beast mode come out.

2) Staying In The Moment -  This one is tough but with some mental training it's possible.  Ok so here's the scenario:  you just hit your approach to within five feet of the cup, looks like a total gimme birdie.  As you roll up to the green, you start thinking about how good carding a three on this hole is and as you putt the ball, it lips out and you're wondering what in the world just happened.  Nothing is more important than the shot in front of me.  Repeat with me...nothing...is....more...important...than...the...shot...in...front....of....me.  There, just keep this in mind, you hit a great shot..awesome, now concentrate on the next one.

3)  Pre-Shot Routine - Yes, this is important.  Why?  What this does is gets you into a robotic like state where you analyze your shot, make a decision and let it fly.  It doesn't matter what you do or what order you do it, just that you have one that makes sense in your brain and you can repeat it time and again.  After a while, it becomes an automatic response to hitting a golf ball.

4) Pushing Yourself In Practice - Please, please when you practice, and we've talked about this ad naseum, make it meaningful.  Besides when you do it's far more enjoyable.  How do you make this happen?  Well, first always have a target your aiming at.  Flag stick, mound, hole, golf cart picking ball...anything.  Now add another dimension.  Imagine hitting different types of shots into different targets.  Perhaps flying the ball over a water hazard or bunker or maybe shaping shots around obstacles.  The more you practice this, the less difficult it becomes on the golf course.

5)  Letting Go - Yesterday we had a posting about 30 Things Not To Do To Yourself.  One of them was not punishing yourself for mistakes.  Same thing applies on the golf course.  You can accumulate enough baggage to fill an airport if only you allow this to happen.  Once that shot flies off the club face, it's over and that's it.