Is your game in the dumps? Can't get a decent hit no matter how much you try to adjust your swing?
In golf, there’s a single part of your body that single-handedly determines your performance in every aspect of the game—and every effort to improve your game should emphasize its development. We're talking about, of course, your brain.
Learning how to maintain the level of focus professional athletes often refer to as ‘being in the zone’ inevitably leads to success on the green; you’ll improve your aim, lengthen your drives, refine your putting, and lower your score.
The tricks to refined focus lay in the science of thought--psychology:
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Focus rituals. Perhaps the simplest trick for improving your focus on any task, including golf, focus rituals/routines become a physical method for invoking focus. The idea is simple: Any time you need to focus and get down to business, you enact your personal routine or ritual. Maybe on the tee box you step behind the ball to see your shot, maybe you stretch, maybe you adjust your hat—the specifics of the ritual don’t matter, only that you (1) use it only when you need to focus and (2) commit fully to it. You essentially train your mind to recognize the ritual and get on task--a useful trick for any golfer whose mind is still bumbling about the business deal blown earlier in the day.
Good anxiety. Anxiety isn’t the enemy when it comes to focus; excessive anxiety is. Finding the safe place between the two is key to maintaining your edge throughout a game. There’s no single point of ‘ideal anxiety’ which works for every golfer, so you’ll need to experiment to find your perfect point between disconnected and overtuned. A suggestion, and something I like to do when I feel like I am getting a little workd up over a bad hole is to take a deep breath and enjoy the company I am with as well as the beauty of the course; which forces myself to relax. May sound cheesy, but those few seconds can go along way.
A winner’s mindset. When you walk out onto the green, it’s important that you play with the belief that you can win held firmly in your mind. Results don’t matter while you’re playing, only belief—if you get caught up in good scores or bad scores, your play will almost always suffer. By disassociating from the score and focusing only on yourself as a winner, you can play at your peak no matter how the day pans out. Even if you don’t win today, consistent good play improves you over time. Remember the Little Engine That Could? Repeat: I think I can!
Support. Find something that can support you in all your golf endeavors, to maintain your motivation, drive, and morale. This might be a single individual whose opinion you trust as you work at practice, play, and refinement. Or, perhaps you benefit more from a social group—playing with friends, colleagues, or competitors might give you the psychological support you need. Some see benefits from sharing with their friends online.
Ultimately, to focus is a skill we must develop, a skill we must practice. Now get out and hit the links and put those awesome tips into practice (with a box of balls from Lost Golf Balls, of course!).