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Five Things To Practice To Improve Your Mental Game

I get a lot of requests to submit content for this site. They usually want to buy the space somehow, whether it’s a paid post or just links within a post. I always turn them down because of my policy to keep this site authentic and unpaid. The only advertising I offer is in the sidebars, and clearly marked as such. Recently I was contacted by Paul Bradshaw, a South African golf professional, who offered to write exclusive content for The Golf Chick, and offered a number of topics for me to choose from.

As someone who struggled to break 80, and a big proponent of the mental game being critical to playing better golf, I jumped on the chance to share his thoughts on the topic (unpaid). So I’m publishing this rare guest post in the hopes it will help someone else crack whatever milestone they’re trying to reach. There’s a lot to learn in this post, and I hope you enjoy it.  And, for the record, the 5th tip in this post is what I believe tipped the scale for me when I finally broke 80.  :)

Five Things To Practice To Improve Your Mental Game

by Paul Bradshaw

  1. Embrace Tough Conditions

You arrive at the golf course and it’s freezing cold outside. Basically snowing. And miserable. All you want to do is stay inside the clubhouse and sip on a hot cup of coffee and keep warm! Well unfortunately (or fortunately) for you play has not been suspended and you have no choice. You’re going out.

This is your opportunity to get ahead of the game and your opposition. As Jack Nicklaus said “In torrid conditions half the field has already given up – so you’re actually only up against the other half”. You have to realize that scores are not going to be great in these conditions and par is your friend.

Play sensibly and don’t go for risky aggressive shots that you might usually do in calm conditions. You have a blow out on a hole and then you’re going to be playing catch up all day long.

Your aim is to churn out the pars and if a birdie comes along at any point then grab it with both hands as you’ve just beaten the field by a shot and a half on that particular hole.

  1. Be Clear Cut In Terms Of Shot Ahead

This is where most amateurs and players in general are not top drawer. Too many of us get over the golf ball and almost forget about what their target or distance is when hitting their shot. This causes indirect doubt and doesn’t allow your body to put a confident swing on the ball.

Visualize this scenario. You’re playing a par 5 with a wide creek running through the fairway at 120 yards from the green. You’ve got 300 yards left to the hole. You realize that taking out a fairway wood and trying to clear the water is risky as if you don’t catch it you’ll be penalized. You need to take the correct club in order to fully commit to the shot, but still end up short of the water. If you were to take a long iron you’re going to subconsciously doubt yourself and whether it’s too much club so you bail out of it and strike it poorly. You leave yourself a lot further away now and having to work harder than you would ideally like. And on top of this your mind is also now thinking about how poorly you did strike that last shot.

Establish yardage, establish target and establish wind direction and strength. And then commit yourself to the shot knowing it’s the correct club in hand.

  1. Change From Result To Process Driven

This is so difficult to master, but you need to start trying to! We all want the best results possible for each and every shot and let’s face it. That’s just not going to happen. There are outside influences beyond your control that will also affect your golf shot. You have to accept that before you’ve struck the golf ball otherwise you’re going to fighting with yourself mentally all round long.

Create small mental goals/targets for yourself before the round and perhaps remind yourself of these along the way. Say things like “I will consistently execute my pre-shot routine each and every time,” and  “I will execute each golf shot as best as I can,” and “Each and every club I get my hands on today I will love.” Things like that.

You keep doing the right mental things and those process goals will turn into successful results. Don’t put a time frame on that either and start putting pressure on yourself unnecessarily.

  1. Visualize Each And Every Shot

Jason Day is a perfect example here. He stands behind every golf shot, holds his club and the end of his glove together and closes his eyes for roughly 5 – 10 seconds depending on the shot at hand.

He is visualizing the shot he ideally wants to play. Right from impact he visualizes the strike, the launch, the trajectory, the shot shape and finally the ball descending toward the target and coming to a stop.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve done this when I really needed to hit a quality shot in a pressure situation and my actual shot was basically a repeat of my visualization. And that feels so good! It gets your mind into the correct state when addressing the ball rather than still doubting certain things and not being sure if you want to draw it or cut it for example.

Implement this as soon as possible and build it into something that just happens rather than you consciously thinking about doing it.

  1. Rather ‘Under Care’ Than ‘Over Care’

Now I’m not saying hit the ball on the walk or finish off your putts from 20 feet while your partners take their time over their shots. What I’m saying is that the outcome really isn’t the end of the world. If you notch up a high number one round and almost embarrassed yourself – don’t care so much!

Come back the following round with a character building low one and set the record straight. If you post another poor one – then keep reminding yourself it’s just a game. You’ve got to have fun more importantly than anything else. When you do that you’re going to start performing better as well.

By not phasing yourself too much with outcomes you’ve also got to stay in the present. Don’t even think one shot ahead and that is TOUGH! But it is so important.

If you get to a tee box and think to yourself “Man this is definitely a birdie hole”…you’ve already jumped the gun. You’re way ahead of yourself – slow down!


 

So there you have it! I hope you found this guest post useful. Thanks, Paul! You can find out more about Paul Bradshaw on his website: www.golfassessor.com.

2 Comments

  1. Great post Paul! Very thorough.

    Having been a golfer that has had some struggles mentally, especially with my chipping- I can relate to most of this.

    I wanted to touch on the visualisation part. I think this is critical to playing great golf and is sadly underestimated and laughed off by a lot of club golfers.

    Your brain is a tool and if you send it the right messages, it will conform. So, if you visualise the shot, you are telling your brain exactly what you want the outcome to be.

    Once you know the desired outcome, you are in a perfect place to hit the desired shot.

    Dean Walker

  2. awesome article, have been struggling with these problems lately. thx

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