Golf Mind Play: What you Focus on Expands

By: Tracy Tresidder

Why is it so difficult to overcome challenges on the golf course?

In order for an individual to make something happen, it is a scientific fact that the event must first be conceived mentally. If your goal is to get the ball over the bunker and onto the green, you first must create that image in your mind for it to happen. The suggestive process of visualisation enables the mind to demonstrate to the body how to effectively perform a task. Harvey Penick was once heard saying, "If there is doubt in your mind, how can your muscles know what they're expected to do?" To produce optimal results from your swing, it is essential to mentally construct an ideal scenario each time you address the ball in order to initiate a consensus between the mind and the body. A confident player is one that is able to achieve harmony within their cognitive and physical self.

Fundamentally we don't get what we deserve, we get what we expect. Analogous to the self-fulfilling prophecy, if you expect to hit your ball onto the green without even seeing the bunker, the chances are exponentially higher that you will sail over the bunker and onto the green. If you are anxious about hitting the ball into the bunker, and consume yourself with that negative thought, your ball is much more likely to end up in the bunker. Why? Because what we focus on expands. Your brain has the capacity to process images that are in your line of vision, but it does not possess the ability to differentiate between a positive and negative image.

Are you psyching yourself out before you even swing the club?

If you're standing in front of a water hazard and become fixated with its enormity, you're inviting your brain to centre its focus solely on the water hazard, and nothing else. The problem here is, the only information you've given your brain is to aim for the water that you are concentrating so intensely on. By allowing the water hazard to expand and saturate your line of vision, you're sending your brain a message that the water takes priority in this particular situation, and that the ball should be directed towards it. Under these circumstances players tend to "choke" or become "psyched out" because they allow themselves to become intimidated by an image that is inflated in their imaginations. To defeat this phenomenon, it is important to centre your focus on where you do want to put the ball while mentally minimising the obstacles that are in your line of vision. Focusing on a patch of grass where you would ideally like the ball to land, while mentally disregarding, or shrinking the size of the hazard will send a clear message to your brain - that the shot you are about to attempt is a realistic expectation, and it is within your power to accomplish. If you can narrow your focus in this manner, there will be no ambiguity in your mind as to where the ball should be directed. By altering your perception of the shot that is before you, you can alter any scenario to fit your skill level. All you have to remember is to focus on your target, and keep those negative thoughts at bay. Focus on what you do want, not on what you don't want!

Tips

1.Demonstrate to your body how to hit the shot you want by first visualising it in your mind.

2.Focus on what you do want, rather than what you don't want.

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