What is the mental game of golf anyway?
In all of my mental game seminars the first question I ask, “Is the mental game important for golf?” Everyone raises their hands in agreement, yes it is important. Then I ask, “when the last time you trained the mental game” and they all look at me with a blank stare. Here is the disconnect with golfers. They understand the mental game is important; however they do not train it. I then ask what the mental game is and again I get a blank stare. The problem that arises with the mental game is that golfers don’t have a concrete idea of what it is and how to train it.
Let’s define it first. My goal for all of my students is for them to be Mentally Focused- Emotionally Confident- and Physically Relaxed during a golf shot. Think about the opposite: distracted, doubt, and tension. We know that will produce poor shots. The mental game has certain fundamentals like teaching a golf swing that need to me mastered. These fundamentals include: motivation, goal setting, focus, confidence, emotional control, mental toughness, preparation, and evaluation. There are many subsets to each that use the tools and techniques such as visualization, anchoring, reframed self-talk, physiology shifts, belief change, body scans, etc. Working with a mental game coach provides guidance to what skills need to be improved and what technique can be trained to raise the skill set.
There is a definite cause and effect relationship between the mind and the body. Your mind gives directions to the body. If I fear hitting a shot into the water, my body will respond with tension. A tense body will affect tempo and feel of a golf swing. The first goal for a golfer who wants to improve is to honestly assess how the mental game is affecting performance. Think back to the last round of golf. Were there times you lost focus on to something that was irrelevant to the shot, yet hit the shot anyway? Was there a time you hit a shot believing you couldn’t pull the shot off? Or maybe a time you became so frustrated after a poor shot that is caused hit another poor shot immediately after? Start today to understand that golf is both a mental and physical game. You work so hard on the practice range to improve swing mechanics and now is a great time to practice the mental game.
Rick Sessinghaus Psy, D, PGA is the author of Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game and specializes in coaching the mental side of golf. He was named 2008 SCPGA Metro Chapter Teacher of the Year and recently named Top 25 Instructor by Golf Tips Magazine. To find out more information please visit www.RickSessinghaus.com.
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