One of the reasons that I find a lot of golfers don’t dedicate more time to the pursuit of a better mental game of golf is that it’s hard to measure your progress. You can’t see or touch the mental game. You can see the difference a swing or equipment change makes pretty quickly, but how do you know if you’re getting a positive return on your time spent improving your mental skills?
Firstly, what is the mental game of golf?
We need to define it before we can measure it. As a mental coach, I could discuss this for hours, but simply put, it’s how well you’re able to access your best game when the pressure is on. It’s about how well you can block out negative distractions and instead, stay focused on the things that are going to give you the best chance of success. If in practice you can play great, but in competition you struggle, this would imply your mental game needs improvement.
But where to start in improving your mental game?
When a student starts working with me, I give them a mental game assessment which allows me to see what their base-line is. They grade themselves on all the key areas of the mental game (honesty is essential in this process). I give them scenarios they will have been in before and ask them to tell me how they felt and how they performed.
Next we discuss how they manage their rounds from a mental perspective (from start to finish) and we start putting a “mental plan” together for future rounds.
The Mental Plan
The mental plan sets the objectives for the rounds. You’re not going to be able to improve your physical skills over the course of a round, but you can improve how well you access your best skills. You do this by sticking to your mental plan. But what might be in this mental plan? Here’s where we try to make your mental game more “tangible” – setting clear targets that you can measure whether or not you did them. These are things that are within your control such as:
- Focus on routines – picking the right target, visualization, mental rehearsal and triggers, accepting the outcome, quieting the mind
- Managing emotions – responding to negative outcomes
- In between shots – mastering the ability to stay present
- Your general attitude
The Mental Game scorecard
Your mental game scorecard measures how well you stick to the plan. This is a very important exercise. It’s key you become more self-aware of your mental game strengths and weaknesses, so you can learn how to improve your mental game and play with more confidence.
But what does a mental game scorecard look like? Over the past 10 years of coaching the mental game to players of all levels, I’ve found the template that works best, and you can get it for free by clicking the link below: