Equally important as a grooved swing is a strong mental game. Like you swing mechanics and course management players need to dedicate time to build mental strength in order to avoid a miss hit due to pressure or stress. The challenge for most players is not dedicating the time to fortify their ability to perform under pressure. It really is an important aspect of focused training overlook by many. The question for most is: ‘how do I build mental strength to perform under pressure’? Well, that is a great question indeed.
Before delving into how I build my mental strength, I thought it would be interesting to see where many players feel stress or anxiousness when playing:
Anticipation of a golf shot can start the hamster wheel a turning. Doubly so if the shot is not routine. Working ourselves up in a lather is one sure fire way to reduce the effectiveness of your game and ability to perform. So, how do we prevent this from happening? How do we build our mental strength to maintain strong approach to each golf shot?
Personally, I focus on three areas. These work for me. Two are mental exercises and one is physical. By combining them, I have been able to approach most golf shots with confidence and a higher than normal degree of success. And for $19.95 I will provide a detailed explaination on how you can develop your own process to build your mental strength (just joking, sometimes I feel like I selling something, but alas I never am. Now back to reality).
My approach is very simple and I believe that any player can do it. When combined, I think that you will rarely feel any stress when playing in competition. I know mine has been greatly reduced and my game has improved dramatically. So in no particular order:
Visualization. I take the time each day away from the golf course (or when I can) to sit quietly and visualize my golf swing. I push all the white noise away and focus on all aspects of my swing mechanics. I focus on making solid contact from various lies; good and bad. I visualize hitting the ball low under branches and high through a hole in the trees. I use my mind to establish a foundation of success so when I am faced with a potentially stressful situation, I react calmly and execute without hesitation.
Conceive – Believe – Achieve. I believe in this mantra for golf and all aspects of my life. Specifically to golf, I focus my mental efforts on hitting a difficult shot without concern. To translate these three powerful words goes like this as I am standing behind the ball.
- See the shot. I see the ball flight of choice. I see the ball finishing where I want it too.
- I believe I can make this shot. I never select a shot I am not 100% confident I can accomplish. I erase all doubt from my mind.
- I let my body achieve the shot without any processing a million swing shots. Once I have committed to the shot, the rest of my movements are automatic.
Practice Difficult Shots. I take the time around the green and at the range to practice difficult shots. Around the green I will push my ball in deep grass, work with and against the lay of the grass, hit from bunkers (plugged shots as well), I will hit over bunkers to a short sided pin, etc. I practice, practice, practice challenging shots. On the range I hit low shots, high shots, short shots, long shots, draws, fades, etc. I practice anything that could happen on the course.
By using these three techniques to improve my mental strength, it reminds me of this famous scene from Bagger Vance:
“I practice visualization. The clearer you can visualize the shot, the greater chance your body has to producing it. If you don’t have a real clear picture before you hit, the shot will come up fuzzy.” – Brad BryantBryant is a professional golfer with 1 PGA Tour win. He is a journeyman player who currently plays on the Champions Tour.
Developing a strong mental approach to golf is as important as a good golf swing. It is impossible to have one without the other. Therefore, I suggest practicing your mental approach will improve your golf game, reduce stress and lower your golf scores. The mental side of golf is often overlooked and by putting aside some time to work on it, great things can happen.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!