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  • Writer's pictureANNIKA Foundation

Three Ways To Improve Your Mental Game

Although technical skills are vital to your golf game, so is the mental aspect of the game. Keeping cool under pressure and maintaining focus is key to a successful round. Here are some strategies to help in your next round of golf.

1. Visualization

Do you ever daydream what it would feel like to sink that tournament-winning putt on the 18th green? If so, you’ve practiced visualization. There are different ways to use this technique. Try it out on the driving range or during your next practice round. Stand behind your ball, close your eyes, and picture what the entire flight of the shot will look like. Then, see yourself standing over the ball, watching it take flight into the sky, and floating all the way down to the ground rolling to a perfect spot.

Practicing visualization can help with your consistency, accuracy, and confidence. Your subconscious mind, which controls athletic movement, cannot tell the difference between real and imagined action. So, by visualizing an action you’re stimulating the same muscles you would use when performing the same action “for real.” By simply thinking about doing an action, you’re already getting your body ready.

2. Pre-Shot Routine

Rushing your shot, usually a sign of nervousness, can lead to hitting a bad shot. Forcing yourself to slow down and go through a pre-shot routine before every shot allows your body to calm down and focus. Nerves can certainly get the best of even the most elite golfers but coming back to a consistent routine before every shot redirects those nerves to something familiar. Despite what’s going on during the round, your pre-shot routine is something you can control and that can help center your thoughts when the round feels like it’s starting to get away from you.

Now, a pre-shot routine doesn’t have to be elaborate and take a long time to complete. It can be as simple as standing behind your ball, staring at your target, taking a deep breath and counting to three. Or saying something positive to yourself to help boost your confidence.

3. Positive Self Talk

What are your first thoughts or the words that come out of your mouth when you hit a bad shot? You may feel frustrated and turn to negative self-talk either in your head or out loud. It’s ok to experience your emotions, including anger and disappointment, but the most important this is how you respond to them. Just because you are angry about a certain shot doesn’t mean you need to beat yourself up. Feeding into the negative self-talk will turn those emotions into self-doubt and create tension and a lack of focus.

Have some mantras or phrases ready to help you respond confidently to any emotion from anger to frustration to excitement. Acknowledge your emotions and then reset. Repeat positive affirmations to yourself. An example may be, “This is an important putt. I am nervous because this shot determines if I win or lose the tournament. I’ve been working on my technique and know I can do this.”

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