As I say to all my golfers, “We are all uniquely engineered.” By that I mean each one of us take in and process the environment around us differently. When you connect to your authentic self and use your inherent strengths to perform better you will more easily access what I call the “state of flow” or golfing in the zone. The zone is an optimal performance state; a special mental place where for some period of time, conscious thought is suspended and every part of you seem to effortlessly flow. Sports Psychologist, Tom Ferraro, Ph.D. calls this experience intrinsically motivated and maybe one of the reasons golfers devote so much time to the game.
A critical key factor of golfing in the zone is what I refer to as “Sensory golf.” Sensory golf is about being in the present (living in the “Now”) and connected to the sensation of the golf shots – not the future consequence of it or the mechanics of the movement. It’s like the Zen concept “Mushin”, which translates literally as “no mind” – when the golfer is focused entirely on the present and not preoccupied with conscious thought, judgment, or emotion. This is a far more effective way to golf than using technical swing thoughts, thinking about your score, or what others think about your ability. Instead I would ask you to suspend conscious thoughts and focusing on the deep connection between your mind and body.
Many of my golfers have the issue of simply “thinking too much” while over the ball. They’re focused on the consequence: “if I make this then…or don’t hit it there!” They can also be pre-occupied by what they think they should do in their swing.
An example of this problem surfaces in what you call the Yips, a state of extreme nervousness that causes a golfer to miss an easy putt.
Golf isn’t like a lot of other sports where the ball is moving, and you don’t have time to think. In fact, there’s plenty of time to think in golf. Yet, thinking during the shot is not good for the athletic movements required to play golf. So, what you focus on during the pre-shot routine is a key part of your golf brain automatically accessing the best movement for the shot you want to play. Jack Nicklaus had this to say – ”I feel that hitting specific shots — playing the ball to a certain place in a certain way — is 50 percent mental picture, 40 percent setup, and 10 percent swing.” So now you have it! The more a golfer relies on visual and body sensations, as opposed to verbal skills, the better they perform, the calmer they feel, and better they come to sensing the game and playing in the zone.
During the “engagement phase” of the pre-shot routine the golfer’s mind needs to be switched on and relaxed. The only “thinking” that needs to be done is getting set up properly. Most Tour players will make a final check that the ball position and alignment look good and make sure it matches the visual shot that they’re about to play. After this, it’s all about connecting (engaging) with the sensation of the shot and focusing on that one thing alone with all your senses.
Here’s one trick, when you feel anxiety producing thoughts trying to seep into your golf game, imagine placing each thought into a little basket behind you to be examined at another time and voila they become invisible. Sensory golf depends on your ability to stay relaxed and a bit of visual imagery can seriously help.
When you are imagining a sensation, you’re keeping your mind free of any other possible distractions. You’re immersing yourself in the process and not thinking about the consequence. This is so important under pressure, when your mind can easily wander and create tension and doubt. As a TPI Coach I appreciate that golf is a very social sport but to play your best, I encourage my golfers to limit verbal interactions with their fellow golfers as they approach a shot, let the chatter and banter drift away, remain silent if you can and avoid getting involved in distracting conversations.
During the engagement phase, you’re giving the subconscious mind instructions (what it needs to reproduce during the desired swing). During a fluid swing, it’s your subconscious mind that’s the primary driver. You’re not thinking about how to move your body, it’s moving naturally.
To sense you game:
. Relax your facial muscles
. Dial down the tension in your hands, arms, and shoulders
. Maintain a fluid, smooth uniform pace throughout your swing
. Begin your swing from a relaxed, well-balanced and athletic stance
. With no thought to mechanics take a relaxed, comfortable practice swing
During practice sessions, work on developing your senses and finding out which gives you the best results. Just turn off your mind. Feel the golf swing without thinking about it. Make sensory engagement one of your top process goals on your mental gamescorecard.
Call for your TPI Wellcoaching Golf Appointment today, contact Coach Conner on mobile (404) 358-3250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit coachconner.com for more informative articles on health and wellness.