Written by Franck Regol, Sports Performance Improvement Psychologist and Mental Trainer, National Center for Golf Performance (FEDF)
In the case of competition, high-level athletes are subject to many demands and especially mentality:
- to focus;
- commitment ;
And you, amateur golfers who play this sport in competition, are completely subject to these requirements.
Believing in yourself, making effective use of your technical skills to adopt strategies adapted to the course, and having mental skills allow you to fully commit and outperform yourself during competitions.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the drills to train three of the essential mental skills to advance your mental approach to golf.
Here are some of the skills the heroes use:
- Visualization: A mental representation of an action or situation.
- Setting goals: setting goals for results and resources in the short, medium and long term;
- Activation management: regulating an individual’s level of physical and mental energy according to his or her needs;
- Awareness of thoughts and inner language: recognition of the flow of thoughts and inner speech;
- Present moment: concern for oneself or an element of the environment here and now;
- Awareness, acceptance and use of emotions: recognizing, naming and dealing with emotions;
- Points of Interest: Pay attention to performance related items.
We suggest that you think of these skills as a toolbox.
This box has been designed based on the distractions, frustrations, uncertainties and difficulties you encounter on the golf course.
The mastery of these skills by an athlete has the following primary goals:
- To make training qualitative and motivating;
- to plan one’s behaviors and thoughts, to use one’s emotions to one’s advantage;
- To adapt faster to the constraints and events imposed by competition.
Daily training of skills, within the sporting activity but also outside, will allow you to better understand them, to better own them in order to use them better when you need them during competition.
Thus, in the course, you will be able to choose this or that skill to face various difficulties and effectively prepare your shots.
The three skills we will be discussing with you are:
- inner language
Imagination is the mental ability to form an image “in your head”.
In golf, they can be used to imagine rolling a ball on a green ground, flying the ball and its path toward a goal, or even planning or preparing for a competition.
This allows you to be 100% on the task, without being distracted.
Let’s start with the first introductory exercise:
Sit comfortably in a chair, and review your latest successful run during a round of golf.
Take the time to review the scene and mentally replay the shot.
The images that appear can be visual, auditory, physical, or mood swings.
You can see the work as an actor or as a spectator.
Realize that individual differences lead to diverse mental representations.
Thus, some see the image very clearly, in color, and will simplify the movement at normal speed, while others see it as blurred, in gray and in slow motion.
It doesn’t matter, everyone has their own way of seeing mentally.
Once you become familiar with this technique, you will be able to apply it in the field for many functions:
- Getting ready, built into your routine
exercise: visualize the desired trajectory, imagine the movement of your body and the intensity of the gesture before you turn on the shot;
- Accelerate learning time and enhance the acquired gesture
Exercise: Make a video of your perfect swing. Watch the movie before bed.
- Plan your strategy.
Exercise: Play the course matches in visualization
- The day before the competition
- In exercise while warming up
- Connect positive images and develop your confidence.
exercise: review of successful actions after the movement or after the match;
Inner Language: Using affirmative speech
The brain does not understand the passive form. “Do not go right” is understood as: “He goes right.”
Architects cut courses with obstacles that attract attention and distract from the goal.
The golfer is tempted to tell himself, “I don’t play right in the direction of the water hazard.”
So the brain hears: “I play to the right in the direction of the water hazard.”
Thus, expressing your intent positively will direct attention to the target for full engagement.
exercise: before each movement loudly announce the chosen axis of play and the target area;
Exercise: announce out loud before each shot the chosen game path; Pitch, follows the curve from start to finish.
In both cases, the clearer the decision, the more attentive and accurate you will be;
exercise: in preparation for the movement, hear yourself clearly say: “I am swinging to the rhythm”;
EXERCISE: After certain strokes, to hear oneself say: “In all circumstances, maintain a proud attitude.”
A round of golf takes an average of 4.5 hours.
The times when there is no action, these very long times between movements, are real “traps” of frustration, contemplation and prediction of an uncertain outcome.
So it is important to have some exercises that allow you to return to the present moment when your thoughts take you to the future or the past.
Watch out for breathing.
- Inhale deeply through your nose and feel the temperature of the air entering your lungs;
- inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 4 seconds, five times in a row;
- Breathe in slowly through your nose paying attention to the flatulence and exhale more slowly through your mouth and listen for the air to come out;
Pay attention to the situation.
- Keep your head up and look toward the horizon as you walk toward the ball;
- Maintain a calm gait while moving.
Pay attention to the feelings.
- Walk feeling the touch of the ground under your feet;
- Drink slowly, paying attention to the temperature or taste of the drink.
Through this short article, we have defined and presented some of the basic mental skills for improving athletic performance.
Then we gave you suitable golf exercises to specifically train three of them.
We want you to be able to use it effectively during competition in order to achieve your goals and perform well.