Golf Mind Play: Eliminating Mental Baggage

By: Tracy Tresidder

Why is it so difficult to shut out intrusive thoughts?

Each time you address the ball, it is important to switch on and remain focused for the duration of your shot. By keeping your thoughts in the present, each time you attempt a shot your mind will be focused and full of positive energy. Introducing thoughts from past experience while addressing the ball only invites the mind to contrive negative scenarios that cause you to analyse your present situation. Imagining an undesirable outcome will force you to play with inhibition rather than to your full potential.

The best way to achieve an optimal state of focus is to completely zone in on a spot on the ball, without thinking about possible consequences, or repeating past mistakes and create an image of what it is you want to do. With each shot you start anew, ensuring that no mental baggage is taken to your next hole, and with the advantage of a clean slate, all of your pre-conceived limitations are lifted. To explain this in greater detail, imagine that you are teeing off the 18th tee and you are one stroke ahead of your all time best score. You know that if you par this hole you will have a new personal record. At the same time you are thinking about the round you had yesterday, when you teed off the 18th and your ball landed in the trees. Right then and there you have introduced two separate thoughts from past and future into your present moment, interrupting your focus and concentration while addressing the ball. These thoughts introduce tension and remove flow, which makes it almost impossible to hit a good shot. Here you have to make a decision, you can temporarily discard those thoughts to gain maximum focus and place all of your energy into hitting the perfect shot, or you can worry about repeating a bad shot and not beating your record, causing you to lose confidence in your ability and consequently hindering your performance in a situation where you need it most.

Do you often feel overwhelmed during a competition?

Making a habit of playing in the present ensures that your current shot will never be affected by limitations, conditions or over-thinking. To take the pressure off for your entire game, your round can be broken down into smaller competitions that you play against yourself. If you only have to worry about your present shot, you'll be less likely to feel overwhelmed, and will learn to enjoy the moment rather than obsessing about what could have been or what might be. The golfer's famous saying of "if only......!" can be completely removed from your thoughts.

Tips

1.Avoid feeling overwhelmed by clearing your mind, and concentrating only on the present moment.

2.Shut out intrusive thoughts concerning past mistakes, or the possible outcome of your shot.

3."Zone in" on your ball and take the shot. Worry about your next shot when you get to it.

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