Mental Golf Practice for the Off-Season
By Rick Semple
It is often recommended, and wisely so, that golfers regularly practice drills in the off-season to maintain and enhance their physical game. The same wisdom applies to the mental golf game, although it generally gets less attention than it deserves. By regularly practicing some basic mental skills during the off-season, however, you can really build your mindset so it is primed, rather than “rusty,” and ready to support a great game when you get back to the course. I know this has been true for me and those I have worked with. I didn’t really believe in the effectiveness of these off-season mental exercises until I tried them myself.
The practices I am talking about here are not extensive, time-consuming, or deep thinking activities but rather practical, awareness-oriented mental exercises that can benefit your game as well as the rest of your life. One of these practices is what I like to think of as “de-cluttering.” Some of the most valuable mental skills to use on the course are focus and concentration, and yet the common tendency for most golfers is to have lots of extra tips, suggestions, and swing thoughts filling and cluttering their mind and interfering with their focus and concentration. I know it’s easy for this to happen when there are so many sources of good information available. In fact, in the off-season many golfers will often catch up on reading golf books, newsletters, and magazines and fill their minds even more. While the information in these resources is valuable and certainly worth the reading and reflection, there is something you can do to prevent the “too much information syndrome” that interferes with the mental focus and concentration that help your game. I like to think of it as a “de-cluttering” technique, and it has worked well for me. Your goal is to have just two or three key swing thoughts or tips that you keep repeating in your mind before and between shots. That’s it – just two or three. More than that can be overwhelming and distracting.
To help you “pare down” or “clear out” and get to the point of working with just a few key ideas, you can write down all the ideas, suggestions, and tips that fill your mind as you play or think about the game, as well as the new ideas that you have gleaned from your reading and are trying to make yourself remember in addition to everything else. Write all of these down, then select the two or three that stand out as most important and helpful to you at this time. These are the ones you will take to the course with you. The other points on the list are for reviewing before and after rounds to further enhance your game. When you go to the course though, remember you want to keep it simple and minimize “clutter” and stick with the two or three key thoughts. This is a good exercise to do in the off-season to help streamline and strengthen your mindset in preparation for getting back to the course, and it’s good to re-visit it periodically during the season as your game changes and your mind fills with new and different ideas. Making a conscious, mindful effort to “de-clutter” is a great step toward improving your focus and concentration.
Making a conscious, mindful effort to “de-clutter” is a great step toward improving your focus and concentration.
Robert Allenby has been a member of the PGA Tour for the past 21 years and has won 22 professional tournaments. However, arguably his greatest achievement will come in April when he is awarded the Charlie Bartlett Award for his contributions to an improved society. Since Allenby has been on the PGA Tour he has helped raise over $26 Million to help children with cancer in both the United States and Australia. Congratulations Robert!
In Another’s Words…
“Of all the hazards, fear is the worst.”
– Sam Snead