As golfers we all know the mental game of golf is important to performance. Unfortunately, most golfers don’t train the mental skills because they don’t know how to train it. Junior golfers need to begin training the mental skills of focus, confidence, emotional control, and tournament preparation. The first skill of focus is crucial to performance. Is your focus on what is relevant for a shot like the lie, yardage, type of shot, and target? Or is your focus on what is irrelevant like your last shot, playing partners, or your score? It can be easy to get distracted; however you can train the skill of focus by improving your pre-shot routine.
The goal of a pre-shot routine is to prepare a golfer to be focused, confident, and relaxed which leads to commitment during the shot. Creating this commitment starts with making the best decision based on the environment and your skill set. You need to take in all the factors that make up the shot. Once you analyze these factors you turn your focus to deciding on a club, type of shot, and target. This sounds easy on paper; however golfers get distracted from this process.
All golfers get distracted, the key is to be disciplined by using the 3 R’s to regain focus. The 3 R’s are recognize, regroup, and refocus. The first skill is to recognize that you are off task. Once you are aware you are distracted its time for step two, regroup. This is like taking a mini timeout before a shot. This step takes only a few seconds and is used as a way to transition to step three, refocus. This is where you use self-talk such as, “where do I want this shot to go?” Next use your eyes and look at your target. You now have shifted your attention to what is relevant, a target.
I want to emphasize that every golfer gets distracted; the champions have learned to refocus better then the rest. Practice the next time on the course by becoming aware of where your focus is during your pre-shot routine. Keep it on what is relevant for the shot and use the 3 R’s when you find yourself distracted. Focus is one of the most important mental skills and can be trained everyday.
Dr. Rick Sessinghaus PGA, “Golf’s Mental Coach”, is the Author of Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game and coaches at Chevy Chase Country Club in Glendale. Visit www.GolfsMentalCoach.com for more resources on improving your mental game.