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Avoiding Distraction on the Golf Course

If you ever watch a professional golfer closely, it becomes apparent how mentally focused they are. Just by looking at their eyes, you can tell that they are zeroed in on the ultimate goal: getting the ball into the hole. This laser focus is easier said than done. Even professionals have mental lapses where they lose their cool, or have a few holes where they underperform due to lack of focus. But that is what makes golf such a fun and challenging sport. While it may not be as physically demanding as other sports, it requires a mental capacity unique to the game.

Over the course of 18 holes and multiple hours, it is easy to become distracted. Whether it’s the other players, the scenery, or the fans, a variety of different things may get in the way of your mental focus. Therefore, it is helpful to have some strategies that keep your mind involved in the game, even when you may not be physically hitting the ball. The majority of these strategies involve introspection (meditation) and self-evaluation, but they can also be implemented with the help of a coach.

Setting Goals:

In between holes, it can be very helpful to set goals for the upcoming ones. Whether it’s the coach brainstorming with the athlete, or the athlete making up a mental list, here are some tips for goal setting:

  1. Make them attainable and realistic

  2. Focus on the PROCESS, not the outcome

  3. Use positive language

Examples:

  1. “I will trust my ability on every shot, and not over-think it.”

  2. “I will stay focused on the current hole, and not worry about the upcoming holes.

  3. “Even if I make a bad shot, I will forget about it and focus on the next one. Nothing is going to rattle me.”

  4. “I will stay in the present moment, and not worry about what my end score will be.”

Positive Self-talk:

Throughout a game of golf, an easy way to stay focused and keep your mind from wandering is positive self-talk. A helpful strategy to get athletes to do this is to come up with a few select phrases. These phrases should be short, to the point, and obviously positive. Sometimes it is also helpful to have familiar images, like animals, embedded into the phrases. By repeating these phrases over and over again, either in their head or out-loud, athletes should experience a greater sense of focus and positive energy.

Examples:

  1. “I feel strong.”

  2. “I am as focused as a hawk.”

  3. “I can hit the ball straight.”

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