Golf is an inside job!
“The mind messes up more shots than the body”- Tommy Bolt. Golf is one the most challenging mental sports ever played. We spend countless hours on the range practicing all the mechanics, shaping shots, chipping, pitching, putting and more. Practice is a necessity to getting better. However, we forget one of the most important parts of becoming a great player is the mental side, the inside job. As an instructor for over 12 years and a player for over 40 I can’t stress enough how important practicing the mental side is.
During a recent yoga class one of my favorite teachers talked about how the practice of yoga is an inside job. One that we don’t take enough time to look at more closely. Yoga is a physical practice and we often lose sight of the inner job of yoga. What our thoughts are when we are in a pose. How we compare ourselves to others in a class or our unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves when we step on to our mats. How about when we step on to the golf course?
How often have you experienced stress, fear, and/or anxiety during a round? You know the feeling, heart palpitations, increased breathing, boost of energy and overall heightened senses. This is the result of an adrenaline rush. The adrenaline rush can and will change the timing of your swing. I can recall many times during a round when I felt this way. My heart rate is the first physical sign for me. It feels like it is jumping out of my chest. One thing I have learned, with the practice of yoga, is to check in with my thoughts and make a conscious effort to take deep slow breaths. This in turn slows the rush down!
Our brain controls everything. If our thoughts are scattered, negative, and anxious our bodies follow suit. I can think of many times, when I first started teaching golf, how nervous I became when I would play with my students. My inner dialogue went something like this; “what if I miss a shot, what if I embarrass myself, what if I can’t perform under pressure” the list goes on. I still go there sometimes but have made a “conscious” effort to shift my inner dialogue which is now part of my mental practice. A few of my favorites are “I am a solid player, I am committed to the shot and golf is not a game of perfection.” The mental side, the inside job is a big part of the entire game.
Time is a factor for all of us. Making the time to practice and play is crucial to becoming a better player. Part of the inside job of golf is the time you spend working on the mental aspects. Some of the best tour players create routines to help them stay calm, focused and present. All which comes from within. If you want to become a better player, calmer, less stressful and have more fun on the course, then make part of your practice an inside job!