Whilst watching the Ryder Cup over the weekend, I thought “Wow, golf is a game of mindset” and I thought about how it is a metaphor for life in general.
With most sports you don’t have time to think, it is about reacting in the moment. It may be that the ball is moving or your opponent is moving and so this impacts on how you play the game. In golf, your opponent’s successes or failures may influence your choice of shot in a match play situation but you always have plenty of time to focus on what shot to play and how to play it. This is one of the reasons golf is a very difficult game to play because you need to handle the pressure, your emotions and manage your mindset.
I learned to play golf 30 years ago and the first time I played on a proper course with other people, my first tee shot was a real shocker; it landed on the 18th green and people were putting on it! That would not have been so bad except there were lots of players waiting to follow us and there were a number of “tuts” from those around me. My confidence was completely knocked and since that time, I would be very nervous on the first tee and whenever I did a bad shot I would imagine “tuts” from others and I would question whether I was good enough to be on the golf course.
This would then spiral into other negative emotions where I would start to curse, maybe swear, maybe even throw my clubs around and then I would get very angry with myself and my bad behaviour. It almost became a ritual. It seemed that I would have to go through that negative process before I could start to accept that it was just a game and a bit of fun and then I seemed to play better.
So how can you manage your mindset and your emotions on the golf course?
Here are 3 tips to manage your mindset on the golf course which are just as valuable in eveyday life
1) Reduce the tension. If you are carrying tension in your body, particularly the top half, it is very difficult to connect with the ball in the correct place and at the right angle. So focus on taking a deep breath before you step up to take your shot and shrug your shoulders and then push them down and purposefully relaxing any tension in the shoulders. Such simple actions with a huge impact and notice how much cleaner you strike the ball.
2) Focus on the target; fairways and greens. So often I hear my golfing colleagues say, “I always go in that bunker on this hole” or “I can never get it over the water”. You may think “I keep slicing it”. When you comment on the hazards, it draws attention to them so they are in your mind and your unconscious will focus on going in the bunker or the water (the same for your slice). So keep your attention on the fairways and greens and visualise the flight of the ball and where you want to pitch the ball. Your unconscious will aim to deliver that through the correct physical swing.
3) Concentrate on the present. Once you have a done a poor shot (and we all will!) it is important to change the attention to what you can control at that moment. Firstly, your emotions by controlling your breathing and walking tall to keep a feeling of confidence. Then, you can focus on what you can do with your next shot. I always have a few sayings to myself such as “This looks like a good skills test” as that helps me to focus on what I have to do.
So when your game is a bit awry ask yourself “What can I do about that?” The more you are able to let go of the mistakes you have made, forget the impact that may have on your score and focus purely on the present the stronger your game will be.
The person who can maintain their thoughts in the present throughout the 18 holes or the competition is the one who is likely to rise above the rest.
And it is the same approach to take for life in general.
If you want to know more about managing your mindset, please contact me
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