Working on Your Mental Golf Game
Working on your mental toughness is key to taking your golf game to a higher level. What you say to yourself triggers a physical response, so developing positive self-talk and reining in your fears leads to a more fluid, confident performance.
However, it can also be more intimidating than practicing your technical and physical skills. After all, there’s not necessarily “drills” for feeling more calm and poised on the course.
So, how does one develop mental toughness on the green? Check out our tips below!
Eat, sleep & hydrate
It might sound basic, but the proper fuel is non-negotiable to your performance.
Try your best to get a good night’s sleep prior to your golf outing. This makes it easier to resist the peaks and valleys of a sugar rush or caffeine fix. The meal you eat the night before matters, too. Incorporating complex carbs and a moderate amount of protein into your dinner helps with your energy levels the next day, since it gives you plenty of time to digest. These carbs include options like starchy vegetables, legumes, green veggies and whole grains.
It’s also a wise idea to eat a healthy, light meal 90 to 120 minutes before hitting the course. Protein shakes are great for keeping you filled up. Stay away from heavy, processed foods that will steal your vitality. During the round, stick with water and healthy snacks like bananas or trail mix.
Taking care of the basics helps you stay on top of your mental game and boost your performance. Natural energy, clarity and a healthy body make it easier to keep the mind alert and calm.
Adopt a power stance
Your body language says a lot. Not only to your competition, but to yourself.
If you’re doubtful, consider the results of a recent study done by Harvard and Columbia University. 42 subjects were asked to adopt different body postures and their hormone levels were tested afterwards. Those with the more “high-power” postures (i.e .proper posture with shoulders back) had higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol. Those with “low-power” postures (i.e. slumped posture), unsurprisingly, experienced greater stress levels.
Just the simple act of adopting the posture a champion goes a long way, so don’t underestimate your grandma’s reminders to stand up straight!
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Stay in the present
Ever heard the term, “Zen it to win it”? A successful golfer needs to be intentional. It might sound simple, but simple doesn’t mean “easy,” especially in our fast-paced culture.
That’s why yoga and meditation are so helpful: They help us cultivate an awareness of the present and tap into the breath. It doesn’t hurt that yoga also works your core, which can improve your golf swing. Living in the moment adds purpose and power to the game.
Before golfing, try to carve out just a few minutes to sit down and breathe to get yourself “now-oriented.” The more present you feel, the more you can strategically assess your options on the green and follow through with confidence.
Visualization might sound woo-woo, but it’s actually just a mental rehearsal for success. Plus, this process has been effectively used by Tiger Woods, Jack Nikalaus and Jason Day, so you’re in good company!
There’s really no “one right way” to visualize. The goal is to create a mental image of the outcome you want to achieve, harnessing all your senses in the process. It’s helpful to close your eyes to tune out all distractions. Perhaps that means you picture yourself stepping up to a shot and setting up confidently, as you breathe in the fresh air. Then, you see yourself take a perfect swing and watch as the ball lands exactly where you aimed it. The more detailed the visualization, the better!
Visualization is effective because it harnesses the power of the subconscious mind. It also relaxes the body, enhances your concentration and increases confidence. If you’re prone to the pre-round jitters, visualization is great for helping you find your calm. It takes practice to feel more natural, so stick with it!
Set a goal for every practice
Not many golfers actually set a goal for every practice session. However, setting short-term objectives is a great way to create a daily record of success.
It’s also helpful in allowing you to understand exactly what you want to achieve. Each time you hit a goal, you’ll boost your mental toughness and confidence. And then you can move on to achieving the next!
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