By Dr. Rick Sessinghaus, PGA, coaches at Valencia Country Club and is the author of Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game.
As instructors we are in the business of helping golfers play better and enjoy the game more. Giving a swing lesson may require adjusting a grip, changing a backswing, refining impact, or finding the optimal tempo. As a mental game coach I need to make changes, but what can we change mentally with a golfer?
We can influence many areas of a golfer’s mental game. We can improve their attitude by developing exciting goals, provide them with a practice plan to achieve their goals, and be supportive when they have a poor performance. I look at making potential changes in their pre-shot routine that covers focus, confidence, and commitment to the shot. I move on to post-shot routine that covers emotional control and bouncing back from poor results and celebrating good results.
Including mental game techniques like positive self-talk and visualization can have a positive impact on their entire game. One of the most valuable steps an instructor can do with a student is taking them on the course. Even if you only have 30 minutes to take a student on the course, you can learn a lot about their mental skills. Ask them questions about the shot and hear what responses you get. It may surprise you how anxious and negative the student gets as you ask them to hit a shot on the course. Taking them off the range and on to the course uncovers if a golfer needs more mechanical training or mental training. Don’t be afraid to make changes with their mental skills on the course. This will pay dividends to all the work you do with them on the range.