Here’s your 10 minute mental game warm-up to increase your confidence and prepare you for a strong performance in your next round. Do this shortly before you leave the house for the course. Find a place where you won’t be disturbed for 10 minutes and put your phone away.
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Step 1: Relax (3 mins)
Sit down with your back straight and your hands in your lap.
Start with some deep breaths to calm down your body and mind. You will probably be nervous before a round, which is perfectly normal, but in order to perform well, you will need to make sure your mind is quiet and your body is relaxed.
Inhale through your nose until your belly goes out and exhale fully through your mouth. As you breathe, notice where your mind is and how your body feels. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath.
After a minute or so of deep breathing, return to your normal breathing and scan your body to notice any tension. Start with your face, noticing any tension in your facial muscles and jaw. If you notice tension, breath into it and soften it. Move slowly to your neck and shoulders, all the way down your arms, to the wrists and fingers. Bring awareness to the sensations in each individual part of your body. Feel the chest and diaphragm moving with your breath. Move down each leg, into the ankles feet and toes. Be aware of exactly how you feel and use your breathing to release any stress and tension.
This type of Awareness Meditation is a good way to quiet the mind and see how and where you hold tension, which will tell you what you need to look out for during your rounds when you’re under pressure.
Step 2: Be Grateful (1 minute)
It’s a given that you care about how you play, but let’s keep it in perspective. The more we can do this, the more freedom we will create. If all we’re doing is piling the pressure onto every shot – equating our scores with our level of enjoyment – we’re going to make it hard to play well. Instead, let’s be grateful and happy for the opportunity to play the game we love. You are not going into battle or the office! Spend a minute thinking about everything you love about what you will experience during your round, no matter what score you shoot. Having that perspective will make it easier to deal with the inevitable ups and downs in the round and keep you in a good state of mind to play well. .
Step 3: Define “The Process” (1 minute)
We can’t control the outcome but we can control the process. The process is about what you will focus on during each moment you are on the course. Whatever the result, you want to make sure you are scoring an “A” for your mental game and your “Performance Process” is your measure of success to determine this. Check out the Golf State of Mind Training Program if you need some help putting together your own Performance Process. Use this minute of your mental game warm-up to remind yourself of the plan for the round.
Step 4: Visualize Success (3 mins)
Mental Imagery or “visualization” is about tapping into your subconscious and creating a sense of “deja vu” of your success in the upcoming round. Jack Nicklaus said that he attributes at least 50% of his success to having seen it in his mind before it actually happened.
Start by building some confidence from success that you have already achieved.
Relive some of the key moments and shots of those rounds, how well you handled them and the feeling of accomplishment at the end. Make it an immersive experience – try to imagine the sights, feelings and sounds.
Next visualize success in the upcoming round. What does the course look like? What is the weather like? What are you wearing?
Go through your routine for tee shots, approaches, short game shots, long and short putts and visualize great swings and successful outcomes. Think about what situations could cause you problems and visualize how you will overcome them if they occur.
Imagine the player you want to be. Although you don’t have complete control over what the outcome of the round will be, you can decide what player will show up. What will your attitude, focus, body language and self-talk be like? Visualize you being your “best performing self”.
Step 5: Prepare Yourself For It To Be Tough (1 min)
One of the reasons we love the game of golf is the mental and physical challenge it provides. If the game was easy, it would quickly lose its appeal. In any round there will be setbacks, mistakes and challenges to overcome. The top players can do this well and not lose confidence. What is your plan to deal with things such as:
- Negative thoughts
- Bad breaks
- 3-putts or double-bogeys
You need to figure this out before the round. Set the expectation that it will be a tough challenge, but be confident you have the mental and physical tools to deal with it. Prepare to have to focus fully on every shot, recover from mistakes, manage your emotions and keep motivating yourself throughout. This is not an easy task and will require 100% effort!
Step 6: Use Positive Affirmations (1 min)
Words have a powerful emotional effect, which is why the right positive affirmations can give you a boost. Create your own positive affirmations based upon truths about your best qualities and what you are capable of doing today. For example:
“I am a mentally tough competitor”
“I have the game to compete today”
“Whatever happens, I will act and behave like a champion”
That concludes the 10 minute mental game warm-up. If you take the time to go through this before every round, I’m confident that you’ll see more success on the course.