Posts tagged ‘Mental Golf’

April 17, 2013

Stop Thinking about Your Swing!

If you are anything like me you desperately want to get better at golf. You think about your swing at night, at work and maybe even while out at dinner. You probably even stroke putts and hit chips somewhere in your home. You watch golf on the weekends and you read about it during the week. You have taken lessons, purchased strange training aids and struggled to get significantly better. I am guilty of all of the above and I am beginning to think it is more of a detriment than anything else. The reason I say this is because the more I think about my swing the worse it gets. I’ll explain.

I recently came back from a six-day golf trip in North Carolina. While I was on the trip I played a lot of golf. I played so much golf, I didn’t have time to think about my swing. I never had a long period of time where I was sitting at my desk wondering what my next round would hold. My next round was always the next day. The next range session was only a few hours away. It was easy to let go of some of my swing thought anxiety because I knew I had a chance to work on it in the very near future.

Now I am back in Chicago and I am thinking about my swing again. I’m thinking about it  a lot. Sitting at my desk not knowing when my next round will be is causing me to think about my swing more than I want. Since I have been back, I have played two rounds of golf. They were my two worst scores I have ever shot on this course. Being stuck at a desk and having two terrible rounds of golf to reflect on is causing me to think about the mechanics of my swing way too much.

Last night I went to the range to pound out some of these new demons. I bought a large bucket and went to work. I knew my grip was a bit off, as was my takeaway and my release just wasn’t getting the job done. I was determined to fix all of these things. Want to know the result? The WORST bucket of balls I have ever hit. I was hitting my pitching wedge a good 20 yards left of my target. 20 yards!!! I was furious.

I bought a second bucket. This time I said to myself, “keep your head still and hit down on the ball.” The result? A bucket full of golf shots. I started to hit the ball straighter and further by just trying to smash the ball into the ground. I wasn’t worried about my takeaway or my angle of attack and blah blah blah. I have written this before, but over thinking the swing is an absolute game killer.

A lot of mechanics goes into the golf swing. My experience so far has been that over thinking those mechanics can be a real pitfall. This might be a gross over simplification on my end and I recognize that. My experience has shown me that getting the swing thoughts out of my head is the best way for me to play golf. There are a few more range sessions in my near future as well as a few early morning 9 hole outings before work in order to keep working on my game. If I don’t have something on the horizon I know I will let myself fall back into over thinking and analyzing my swing.

September 6, 2011

Golf & Stress

Every time I go out to play golf I find that I experience differing levels of stress throughout my round.  It can vary from anxiety over hitting your first tee shot in front of strangers, hitting a ball OB at an important point in your match with a buddy or even no stress at all since you are just out screwing around with some friends which can lead you to not focus enough and make haphazard swings.

The funny thing about stress and golf is that sometimes I feel like certain levels of stress or anxiety can actually help me focus.  I am not talking about the kind of stress where you walk up to the tee box and all you can think about is the OB water to your right and you inevitably hit your ball dead right into the water.  I am also not talking about the kind of stress where all you can think about is the potential negative outcomes that surround your next shot, rather I am talking about the kind of anxiety that makes you take into account all of the hazards in your way before hitting a shot.

It is not wise, in my opinion, to just hit shots and not take into account the possible pitfalls around each shot.  That to me seems a bit cavalier.  Rather, I like to see the hazards in front of me, accept them for what they are and visualize my shot once I have registered them.  There is nothing wrong with seeing hazards for what they are, accepting them as potential hazard and moving on.  To pretend they do not exist is naive.

I find that when I am able to feel that sense of anxiety on the course and accept it for what it is it allows me to focus on the shot I need to hit as opposed to just hitting a shot and hoping it works out.  The course is what it is and it does not change much each time you play it so why do we let ourselves get caught up in the negative outcomes that can potentially take place instead of thriving in the moment and visualizing success?  If there were an easy answer to this question more people would be better at golf, but I would be interested to hear what some of the mental coaches out there think about stress on the golf course.