It can be a challenge to stay focused and be mentally alert on the golf course, when the rounds can take over four hours. Many golfers talk about golf from the moment they arrive at the course, being out on the range for practice and all the way through their playing round and then into the 19th.
The mind can’t focus intensely for that amount of time. I get the reason why because we all love the game. I’m not saying don’t talk about golf but just be aware when it’s time to focus on the game and when to stop as that will help you improve your concentration.
Also, time spent focusing on the negatives after a poor shot and ‘trying’ to get those shots back, doesn’t help and only helps to drain our energy.
Have you noticed how you feel completely drained after a mentally challenging day at work and maybe need some chill out time when you get home but you don’t feel the same when the boss has been in a good mood or someone’s had a birthday bash and you all went out to celebrate?
That’s because your mind isn’t spending so much time focusing in a mentally challenging environment.
The same thing happens on the course. When we’re having an off day, things aren’t going as planned, we struggle to get back on track and often by the time we’ve got to the last 4 or 5 holes, we’ve had it, our energy reserves are depleted and our game only seems to get worse.
Conversely, if we’re having a good day, things seem to go so much better and easier.
Training our minds to switch off is an important part of staying mentally alert. Developing processes and routines, such as pre and post shot routines, where we train the mind to focus for short periods and forget about the shot once it is over, helps us to stay focused and what is known as 'present' or in the moment.
Between holes, think about anything else but the shot you’ve just played, the next shot or golf in general. Think about your holiday, a dinner party, family gathering or anything else that makes you feel good but not golf, until it’s time to take your next shot.
Over a period of time and with practice, we can enter that often elusive area known as ‘the zone’ or ‘flow state’ where things just happen seemingly without effort and we are unaffected by internal interference (thoughts) or external interference and distractions.
Also, it’s not just what we put into our head that matters. Eating and drinking the right things are essential to stay mentally alert. Avoiding sugary, fizzy or low calorie ‘sports drinks’ which are laden with sugar or chemicals which can affect our mental state through sugar highs and crashes.
Staying hydrated is vitally important, especially when playing in warmer weather, which may seem obvious, but avoid the 'sports' and fizzy, sugar laden drinks. I’ve had clients who struggled after 13-14 holes as they literally ran out of steam, physically and mentally.
The ‘sports’ drinks they had been drinking didn’t help them as much as they thought. Once they changed to water and a healthy snack such as nuts and raisins or a homemade energy bar, the problem disappeared and so did the crash.
If you’ve been struggling staying alert for the whole round, try these and see how they help you. I’d love to hear your feedback.
If you want to know more about how we can help you improve not only this area but your overall mental game, get in touch by clicking this link here.
Having the wrong mindset can cause you serious problems. I read a post on social media earlier by a pro golfer about Jordan Spieth’s audible outburst with his caddy yesterday which simply stated, “This is what The US Open does to you”.
What she was referring to, was his exchange with his caddie that was caught by Fox TV about two pieces of information/advice he received from his caddy wherein Jordan spelt out quite clearly what he felt.
“Two perfect shots, Michael,” Spieth said. “You got me in the water on one and over the green on the other.”
Afterwards, when questioned, he put it down to ‘frustration’.
Which is understandable from the point of view, it’s the US Open after all and one of the most difficult tournaments on the tour.
But in my humble opinion, not defensible. He makes the final decision, he takes the shot, even if they worked out what needed to be done as a team, so then there’s no need to point the finger solely at the caddie.
It was knee jerk re-action.
Until recently Spieth had been a very calm and collected young golfer who has won 3 Majors, so he knows what it’s like being in such situations, especially as it’s only day one!
However, my point here is more to do with the statement from the pro golfer saying “This is what the US Open does to you”.
The US Open, nor any other competition doesn’t do anything to YOU. It doesn’t go out of its way to eat you, Jordan Spieth or anyone else up on purpose. The course is set up by the USGA and it meant to be a stern test.
The course itself doesn’t make you blame someone else, it doesn’t make you curse or throw tantrums. It just sits there being itself.
The difference is in the perception.
The late Wayne Dyer said “When we change the way we look at something, the thing we look at changes”.
How we think and feel about different tournaments and the way we perceive them is what makes the difference. The media hype and build up because it’s a Major.
Now I’m not saying it’s not an important tournament, but putting too much importance or meaning on something is how much pressure we determine is put on ourselves.
Which is where many struggle.
Years ago, Bjorn Borg known as the Ice Man regularly played with players who were having tantrums and he quietly went about his business playing brilliant tennis, not succumbing to the pressures or wrong calls against him.
“Easier said than done” I can hear you cry.
I didn’t say it was easy. Simple yes.
It comes down to self-awareness and control. Mastery of self was never meant to be easy and that’s why golf is such a challenging and difficult game. It’s not simply hitting a ball with a metal stick.
I love watching Jordan play and look forward to the rest of what looks like being a terrific tournament.
If you’re struggling with that part of your game, get in touch to see how we can help you improve your mental game and control by clicking here.
Golf can take some time to play, especially if you’re on the PGA Tour these days!
But seriously, being out on the course expecting to concentrate intensely for four plus hours is no mean feat, especially when you’re expected or expecting yourself to play at your best with a myriad of things going on around you and inside your own mind.
Like multi-tasking, which is never a good idea really, you end up doing five things averagely instead of one thing at a time really well.
Having large amounts of down time between shots is one of the game’s big challenges. It allows golfers plenty of time to focus on all the negatives in their game, which can lead to them looking for the slightest excuse to blame their mishit or missed putt on something other than the real problem.
It could be the drone of the green-keeper’s mower 300 yards away, a loose coin in someone’s pocket or a butterfly sneezing on the next fairway. Whatever it is, it can and does get to some golfers and has been known to send some into a complete frenzy.
Years ago I recall seeing Colin Montgomery chastising a cameraman for being too close to him when he was about to take a shot, even though the guy had been shadowing him most of the afternoon, it just so happened it was when his game was starting to feel the pinch.
He allowed his mind to wander.
The pressure gets to us all if we let it. And then the yoghurt really can hit the fan.
So what’s the answer?
To let “shift happen”.
By that I mean shift your focus of blaming everything that is going wrong onto everything else, such as the mower, the loose coin or the butterfly sneezing and take responsibility for your focus, your actions and the results.
Shift your focus to responsibility is incredibly empowering, knowing that you have the power to make things happen or simply allow them to happen.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could shift from looking for what’s going wrong to what’s going right and what can go right?
When you do that you’ll be amazed at how your game can change.
Too often we don’t always realise it’s happening and we need another set of ears and eyes to notice these things.
If you feel your game isn’t where you want it to be and want to get that other set of ears and eyes, contact us to discuss how we may be able to help.
Photo by Mitch Gunn / Shutterstock
Over the years I’ve heard so many different differing thoughts and advice on how to improve and one of the most amusing quotes related to this was “You don’t improve because you keep listening to your friends”.
The problem with that is your friends often don’t know enough to be giving advice and also give the wrong advice, because they simply aren’t at a level to teach others and haven’t trained how to spot the problems and causes in someone else’s game.
I’m sure you wouldn’t ask a ‘friend’ to sort out your electrics at home who wasn’t qualified, so why do it with your golf game.
It often becomes so confusing and is counterproductive.
You can hear them saying things like “Your hands are too high…. Keep your head up…. As you take it away, keep your hands in line, turn wide, watch the ball, shoulder to chin and then what you do is….”.
Or words to that effect.
Which leads me to the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard in person rather than just in books. It was last year when attending a clinic for a small group of people after the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island, S,Carolina, being hosted by Sir Nick Faldo.
He arrived on the Monday morning after the tournament and walked to the practice ground where he was to hold the clinic. Without so much as a warm-up he launched into his talk and started going through his repertoire, hitting different shots from low fades to high draws with incredible precision.
Or so it seemed to us. He may not have been quite so impressed compared to his younger days, but he could still strike the ball beautifully.
But the amazing thing was when asked about his swing thoughts during competitions, he said that he won his first Open Championship with only one swing thought which was simply “Thumbs up”.
He explained that the world’s media thought he was, in his own words “Some mechanical lunatic”, but nothing could be further from the truth and on each shot, all he thought about was keeping his thumbs up on the back swing and thumbs up again on the follow through.
It was that simple and it worked.
So if you’re every wondering if you have too many swing and mental thoughts standing over a ball, if it’s more than one, then the answer is ‘Yes!”.
Like many things, keeping it simple always is best when it comes to the mind and especially golf.
Try it out in your game and see how you get on.
If you find you’re struggling with it, no matter what level you’re at, get in touch to see how we can help you with your mental game by clicking here.
Have you ever wondered why so many people struggle with golf?
I recall growing up in the 1970’s and it seemed that every time we turned the tv on, there was an American tv show on and someone was always off to ‘see their shrink’.
You’d see the tv character laying on a leather couch in the Psychologists office staring at the ceiling being grilled by the ‘shrink’ about their life and what was going wrong.
I remember thinking it’s all doom and gloom, is everyone really nuts?
Previously there’s been a negative connotation with the mental side of sports including golf, with many thinking there’s something ‘wrong’ with them if they seek the help of someone to work on their mindset.
It’s seen as some form of stigma or it's only for the very elite.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Working on your mind in any line of work, business or leisure is one of the best investments you can make. Ever.
You become elite because you work on your mind and game.
I’m not saying that because I am involved in the business but more a reason I got involved was because I’ve always been fascinated by what makes one person ‘tick’ or successful and another person not so. I realised my failings early on in life were because I lacked the mental strength and mindset required to get to the next level and sought out a way to find out how to get there.
One thing’s for sure, it would have been a much less difficult road to travel had I started much earlier in life, instead of choosing to do things “My way” for so many years, being blind to the power of our minds.
As I’ve covered in other blogs, golf is both a physical and a mental game and how we fuel our bodies and minds is critical to success.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “if you put cra*p in, you’ll get cr*p out” and many aren't aware how much of both they're putting in!
Many of golf’s greats have expressed their thoughts and feelings as to the power of having a strong mental game to become the person required to reach their potential and Arnold Palmer summed it up brilliantly when he said
“Success in the game depends less on strength of body than upon strength of mind and character”.
It doesn’t happen by chance. It happens through choice.
Here are some of the ways we work to help improve the mental aspects and fuel the mind.
1. Increase awareness. What’s working, what’s not working, Our weaknesses can outweigh our strengths.
2. Prepare. How to prepare for the course and how to get their minds into the right frame or state to perform at their best.
3. Routines: building routines that they can trust under pressure.
4. Build self-confidence and confidence. Confidence in their swing and confidence in their ability
5. Develop resilience – the ability to bounce back from setbacks during the game.
6. Develop the mental ability to reduce fear.
7. Accountability. Have someone who is there to help you commit and reach your potential.
8. Belief. Probably the most important one of all. You can achieve great things when you believe in yourself, but you can achieve amazing things when you have someone who believes in you.
Now, the big question ‘Do you need one?”
The simple answer is no one ‘needs’ one at all. The question is “Do you want to improve?”
Take it from me, doing it "My way" is not something I'd recommend if you want to fulfil your potential.
If you would like to know more about working someone who will get the best out of you, contact us to find out more by clicking here
I grew up looking forward to F.A.Cup final day like most kids, with eager anticipation. The day started out with tv cameras at the teams hotels following the players every move.
They followed them throughout the build up, giving an insight into everything you could wish to know from where the players would get their haircuts, to how fans were having their hair dyed in their teams colours, to what underpants they would be wearing as part of their superstitions.
But what’s this all got to do with golf?
Nothing and everything.
In all sports people have superstitions to help bring them some luck. The thing is almost all of the time we often make our own luck and no matter how many pairs of lucky pants or trousers you wear, or four leaf clovers, silver dollars you keep in your bag, they won’t stop your ball once it’s left the club face from taking a bad bounce left or right and ending up in the bad stuff.
There will always be times when playing the great game that things will not work out exactly the way we want them but there will also be times when things work out better than they really should.
Just recently Jerry Kelly playing on the PGA Champions tour at Hualalai, played his second shot on the 7th hole into the par five, he managed to block his shot straight right into the lava rocks, bouncing twice, before hitting the cart path and bounced down the hill through the rough and onto the green about 20-25 feet from the pin.
Sounds more like crazy golf!.
But he wasn’t finished yet. He nonchalantly walked up and sunk the putt for an eagle.
I can imagine that made his day, going from a likely double bogey to an eagle in no time at all, saving him four shots!
The thing was from the moment he hit the shot he knew it wasn’t going as he had planned but he didn’t go off on one. He simply started jogging left to see where it was going and let out a sound of faked pain with a hint of painful laughter as he realised he’d made a big booboo.
No thumping the ground, expletives or self-cursing.
I’ve seen many golfers who would have snapped the club in half as soon as they saw the shot aiming for the rocks.
Golfers can be pessimistic, almost expecting the worst to happen.
However, we never truly know what is going to happen, we can only do our bit, play the shots, follow the processes and routines and simply trust that everything goes right, instead of focusing on “What may go wrong”.
Having a negative expectation is a habit but one we’re not always aware of and can make us react more negatively to things when they appear to have gone wrong, instead of taking a little time to see what actually happens and then simply accepting things, come what may.
Wouldn’t it feel better to play with the anticipation of something good happening and focusing on positives to help your game, rather than always expecting the worst and being on edge the whole time?
Sounds simple. It is.
Easy. It’s not.
And therein lie the challenge and why so many struggle.
Change isn’t easy but like the saying goes “Everything worthwhile is uphill”. So if you’re fed up struggling with negativity or frustrated with your game, then get in touch to see how we can help you improve your mindset and your results by clicking here.
We’re all working on something we want achieve or improve and not always getting the results we want, so running out of ‘GAS’ may just be what you need to turn things around.
Whether that is our fitness, our swing, our tempo, our thoughts, our overall game or it could be something else outside of golf that affects our performance.
It’s not always something inside the game that affects our results. It’s no different in the business world and we take our personal lives to the office and vice versa.
Life goes on.
We can’t always just switch things on and off when it suits us.
Or can we?
I remember years ago a guy I worked with had this innate ability to switch off from work as soon as he left the office. When everyone else was scurrying around worried about what may or may not happen, always looking at their mobiles, checking emails and sending reports they thought clients ‘may’ want at 9pm, this guy simply shut off from the office when he left and focused on his family life.
He had the same ability on the golf course.
“That’s just not possible” ….. “Ridiculous” I can hear many of you cry.
I’ve heard it many times over the years. I even used to say it myself!
But I can certainly say from experience, he was right. He did it and so can we if we choose to. The problem is we don’t know how to switch off.
Sure, it’s ok for someone to simply say “Switch off and forget about it” but doing it is another thing.
Because we’ve been trained to do things in a certain way that it’s become habitual. We are creatures of habit as the saying goes and for good reason. We build many habits whether we’re aware of them or not.
Only be recognising them as habits can we choose to do something about them, intentionally. They won’t change by chance.
Which means making a conscious decision to change them and replacing them with new habits. Simple yes, easy not so much.
Which leads me to my point. Sometimes we need to run out of ‘GAS’ to actually get us there.
What I mean is to stop ‘Giving A S*@t ‘ to coin the phrase as it’s usually known.
We often spend so much time focused on and paying attention to what might happen, rather than simply doing our best and not getting so fixated about the result.
In golfing terms this means not reacting to where your ball ends up. It may take a sharp kick left or right into a hazard. You cannot control it and it doesn’t mean that you don’t care, more simply that you’re not letting it affect you.
So, if you find yourself getting angry when you see your ball hop into a bunker or a lake, remember to think about running out of ‘gas’ and change your reaction, as you cannot change what has happened.
It takes time and effort to change things, they don’t happen by themselves or overnight, but with some dedication they will and I’m sure you’ll see some improvement, now just in how you feel, but in your game overall.
After all, who wants to come off the course feeling frustrated all the time?
If you like the sound of this and want to dive into learn more about your mental game, why not look at the 7 Keys to Improve Your Mental Golf Game by clicking HERE
It had been touted recently as potentially the best line up in The Masters modern history, with so many really good players coming into form at a similar time.
There was plenty of talk centred around Rory McIroy and the elusive ‘slam, Francesco Molinari’s amazing 2018 and his impressive start to 2019 with his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month in his first outing after signing with new clubs.
If anyone had any doubts about what golf is about or whether or not to get their kids involved in the game, this years tournament was in my humble opinion, the greatest show of sportsmanship, skill and mental strength, as well as the greatest comeback of all time.
Sorry Muhammed Ali, I grew up watching you throughout your career and you were amazing, but Tiger has this one.
I believe we can all learn something from yesterday and these are my reasons why we should get more kids involved in the game of golf.
Humility. It’s been well documented over the last 8-9 years about his personal life, but things have moved on and it shows. He looks a completely different character and his recent playfulness was evident at The Players on the 17th when having fun with Kevin Na. Something the world has seen little of previously. The game has a way of making us all human.
Resilience. The ability to bounce back and come back when the odds and everything else seemed to be against you. Personal agonies and injuries which many would have given up because of long ago, the doubters and at times I’m sure, your own self-doubt tested you to the limit.
Attitude. It’s the thing that makes people top salesmen or not so good salesmen, the thing that makes top performers or average performers. It’s contagious and you can’t buy it but you can always see it.
Persistence. It’s intangible. Having the ability to keep going is something that only comes from a deep desire and intention to do so. It comes from having a strong enough reason “Why”. I think we saw the reason why when he walked off the 18th to his waiting family.
Patience. So often we get sucked into having to get everything now, before it’s too late. Tiger’s no spring chicken in this game at the age of 43, but he has shown incredible patience in his quest to get fit, work on what is required to get to where he wants to be and that’s at the top of his game. During the round yesterday, we saw absolute composure as he waited for his chance to move forward and didn’t re-act when he missed golden opportunities, choosing instead to be patient and bide his time.
Belief. We all question our beliefs at times when we’re faced with difficult situations and challenges, both in life and on the golf course. His self-belief and his attitude all stem from when he was being mentored by his father. Belief is where the magic happens and it all stemmed from his father believing in him,
This all adds up to what Like many, I feel is the greatest comeback in modern sporting history and the greatest display of mental strength I’ve ever seen in sports. I don’t wish to take anything away from Francesco Molinari, who in the last few years and in particular the last 18 months, has shown what an amazing golfer he has developed into, working with several coaches on his physical side, his swing and his mental approach, but yesterday he simply got swept aside by the phenomenon that is Tiger.
It’s been said many times, that Tiger Woods is good, no, Tiger Woods is great for golf and with what happened on Masters' Sunday, will no doubt help to bring even more young people into the game of golf and learn from him and the others what the game is really all about.
Watching the press conference yesterday with Rory was quite refreshing in a way and also quite scary.
Refreshing to see how he has moved his game up after some more changes in his personal routines, not just the golf ones. He talks differently and is open about how he has been meditating, changed his diet to exclude some things that may not be helping him perform and changed his thought processes to name a few.
It was quite scary too as I recalled ten years ago when I went through a similar transition after I discovered how serious a lower back injury was and I had to change many things to help improve, what was at the time thought to be a life changing situation, starting with physical health.
I started to change what I ate, dove into nutrition because as I discovered the computer analogy rings true…. “Crap in… crap out”. As a natural part of the transition and healing, it further led to the same thing with the mind and the way we think.
This was about improving the situation I was in at the time and believe me it was pretty dire, but the choices weren’t exactly thrilling.
What I discovered was that the mind doesn’t like change (nor do the taste buds) but it wasn’t all woo-woo, pixie dust and unicorns. Which is why it was a struggle to start with and on the food side, they put sugar and all sorts of other rubbish into so many things so it tastes ‘good’.
Now before your mind goes into a tailspin thinking “Oh no, not another one of those veggie new age vegan weirdo guys”, as I’ve already mentioned the computer analogy applies here too and is the same with the cars we drive.
Try putting the wrong fuel in your lovely Porsche or Beamer and see how far you get. Sugar laden, dyed liquids claiming to be sports drinks are not good for your physical or mental game.
And once you start to change the things you eat, the body reacts in a positive way and it wants more of the good stuff. Oh and the taste buds start to come alive when you put real food in your mouth!
A similar thing happens with the mind.
If you want to improve something, you have to change, it’s as simple as that. But there are some key factors to look at in order to make sure you have the best chance of success when you work with the mind and implement new strategies.
It’s more a case of keep putting the right things in so there isn’t room for the bad stuff and eventually you improve how you think, feel and act.
Here’s some of those factors:
How it is introduced. If you implement a completely new routine or regimen in one go, the mind can often reject the idea or make it seem like an uphill struggle. Start with baby steps, to make small successes along the way. For example, meditation. For me it was a challenge as I tried it once, diving in for what seemed like hours but was in fact a torrid 10 minutes where my mind was still going at 100 mph and the mind couldn’t sit still so to speak and so I stopped.
Start with one minute, then two minutes then three and building it up from there, so you can get upto 20-30 minutes a day if you so wish. It really helps relax and focus the mind.
In the book ‘From Couch to 5K’, they have a similar principle by starting to move yourself from the couch to running a short period to start with and building on it each day, you will eventually get to 5k.
Starting out at 5k isn’t going to work for many people.
Having a desire and an intention to actually improve things. Simply wanting to improve will not make it happen. Having an intention sets the ball rolling but the real driver behind this is to have a reason “Why”.
I don’t mean motivation, because I believe motivation is usually driven by someone else’s wishes not your own. You have to be inspired to do something, inspired or driven by something deep inside yourself.
As Rory eluded to in his press conference at the Masters yesterday, he wants to win and to do that he has to be the best he can be, but he doesn’t have to win. That’s a huge difference mentally.
It’s a process. It doesn’t happen overnight and it takes commitment to the process. Often we want instant results and if we don’t get them, we think it’s not working rather than trusting the process and allowing it to take shape.
Just listening to him at the conference you can see the work he has been doing over the last seven months has started to pay off, not just on the golf course, but in his personal life, the way he speaks, how controlled he is and his outlook.
It’s changed and so has his golf.
We haven’t seen the best of Rory yet, I’m sure of that.
Well done Rory, you are a true sportsman and inspiration to so many people, not simply golfers and I will certainly be rooting for you this week at the Masters.
If you'd like to know more about improving your mental game, get started with my 7 Keys to Improve Your Mental Golf Game. Get your complementary copy by clicking here
Like many golfers, I imagine you can’t wait for Saturday to Arrive.
Especially if you’ve been cooped up in an office all week. The lure of the fairways is so tempting after a long winter if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere.
But with all the excitement, expectations and eagerness to get out and play, do you know who will turn actually up on the day?
This is a big problem for many golfers. They’re never quite sure if it’s going to be Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde.
“Where did that come from?” I remember a friend saying several times when we were was sat in the 19th after after a particularly good round.
The truth was he wasn’t ever sure who would actually turn up. He didn’t know his own game or the likely cause of his performance.
Once he discovered it wasn’t simply one thing, but a combination of things that made a real difference, things started to click.
Here’s a few things that helped transform his game:
Preparation is key for anyone who wants to improve or perform at a high level. He was used to turning up 15-20 minutes before a tee time, after rushing around all morning, grab his things and head off to the first tee expecting to be on top form.
This includes preparing the mind for the game, focusing on what you want to achieve and getting yourself into the right mindset. Feel good about yourself and your game before you even get to the course. If you don’t, you’re only setting yourself up for tough time.
Quality thinking is vitally important. Most people call it positive thinking, but It’s not all hot air. If you don’t believe me, try playing a round focusing on all the negatives: missed putts, three or four putts you’ve had, bunkers and mishits and see how well you play.
I’m sure it won’t give you the results you desire.
Play within yourself. We often get carried away with the occasion and our emotions can affect us both negatively and positively if we aren’t careful. Don’t be suckered into chasing score and going for shots that are really out of your reach or playing level.
Unless you are Rory McIlroy, you aren’t going to hit a drive like Rory McIlroy.
Have a process and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to start chasing scores and focusing on getting shots back. Develop processes for each part of your game and scores will follow.
Start using these as part of your game and in your preparations and see if you know who will turn actually up each week. I’m sure you’ll start to feel more confident and improve your scores.
If you like the sound of these, try my 7 Keys to Improving Your Mental Golf Game by clicking here to get your copy.
Performance Coach & Trainer at Golfing minds