Now that the days are shorter and colder (for most of us anyway), you’ll probably be spending more time working on your game inside. But just because you aren’t able to get out to play and practice as much outdoors, it doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to improve.
In this week’s lesson, I’m going to cover 10 Winter Training for Golf activities to keep improving your skills ahead of the season starting again in the spring.
1. REFLECT ON THE PAST YEAR
Ongoing reflection is an important part of the game improvement process, and your year-round review is probably your most important one.
Did you set goals for 2023? If so, how many of them did you achieve? Take yourself back to some of your best rounds and celebrate your successes and improvements in your game. Why do you think you were able to make progress? Reinforce what’s working for you.
For those goals that you didn’t achieve, why do you think you weren’t able to do so? Was it that those goals were too ambitious? That you weren’t motivated enough to put in the work? Or did you not work on the right things or in the right way?
Use this reflection to adjust your goals and practice plans for 2024.
2. SET GOALS FOR 2024
What do you want to achieve next year and how are you going to achieve it?
Make sure that your goals are mostly intrinsic – that is, there’s meaning and purpose behind them and it’s more about self-mastery than impressing or pleasing others.
If you do set goals for specific tournaments or rankings, turn those into “Performance Goals” for what you will need to improve about your game to achieve them.
What habits and characteristics will you need to change about yourself?
These goals to be written somewhere you’ll be able to see them regularly, along with a weekly plan. I have all these templates for you to download if you are enrolled in my mental game training course.
3. START A GOLF SPECIFIC FITNESS REGIMEN
Getting strong, fit and flexible is a non-negotiable for the game of golf and the game of life. Your winter training for golf should include 3-4 gym sessions per week (ideally doing at least something every day) to improve your:
- Explosive power
Start small and build it up. Begin with a few short sessions, and as you develop the habit of doing regular exercise, work up to longer, more regular sessions. Creating a plan really helps reduce the barriers to getting started.
4. EDUCATE YOURSELF ON HOW TO IMPROVE HUMAN PERFORMANCE
I’m not just a mental coach, I’m a student of the game and a student of life. I’m always seeking ways to learn and improve all aspects of my life, and there are some great free resources out there to do it. Here are some of my favorite podcasts that I listen to weekly.
5. IMPROVE YOUR FOCUS
In today’s digital world and our connection to our mobile devices – we’re constantly distracted. We don’t get to spend the much-needed time with our minds, which affects our ability to focus, be aware and sleep.
Neuroscientists tell us that the best way to calm the mind and improve focus is meditation. When you are playing under pressure, the mind can be very distracted by the past and future and it’s hard to stay present and calm. Meditation is great practice for this (and more importantly, greater mental and emotional wellbeing).
I meditate every day without fail first thing in the morning. If you need help getting started there are plenty of guided meditation apps but I simply focus on my breath. You should also consider phone-free time, where you can be present to what you are doing or just be alone with your thoughts.
6. GET BETTER SLEEP
The importance of sleep in performance is vastly underestimated, and you should start prioritizing it now. All the competitive players I work with take sleep very seriously. Sleep expert Matthew Walker says that ““Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day — Mother Nature’s best effort yet at contra-death.”
I currently use a device which I wear on my wrist called “Whoop” which tells me exactly how much sleep (broken down into light, REM and deep sleep) I get each night out of the time that I’ve spent in bed. I’ve found that since I’ve been able to measure my sleep, I’ve been able to improve it.
7. RECORD YOUR DISTANCES AND DISPERSIONS
Do you know your distances and dispersions of each club? I.e. what does the cluster of your last 10 7-irons look like around your intended target? This is a key part of your course strategy, and using indoor simulators as part of your winter training for golf is a great way to do this.
If you have access to an indoor simulator or launch monitor, go through each club (in a random order) and mark down the distance and dispersion from your intended target. Some launch monitors will do this for you. Overtime (a few sessions), you’ll have a variance number long-shot, left-right, for each club which you can use to fit your dispersion pattern into the golf course when you play. This can save you several shots per round by eliminating the big numbers.
8. START A MENTAL TRAINING COURSE
The winter is the perfect time to start my 8 week online Mental Game course, which you can go through at your own pace. The goal is to create your “mental framework” by listening to the lessons and doing the worksheets and exercises.
You’ll definitely want to use your winter training for golf to work on the Pre Shot Routine builder exercises.
My program has been tried and tested with players of all levels and it’s guaranteed to help you improve focus, confidence and mental toughness and as a result, your scores!
To get started on the program, click here.
9. MAKE GRATITUDE A DAILY HABIT
Studies show that an “attitude of gratitude” can have a positive effect on our mental health and it’s accessible to you at any time (if you choose). Further studies on gratitude show that there’s a connection between your gratitude level and your success and happiness. In other words, if you increase gratitude, you’ll increase performance and happiness.
The good news is that gratitude can be trained, so it becomes more of a habit. As a daily exercise (I do it in the evening), write down or think about 3 things that you are grateful for and 3 things that you love about yourself.
10. START A PERFORMANCE JOURNAL
I encourage all my students to keep a “performance journal”. Writing in a journal is a great way to reflect on your performance and practice, deepen your connection with your goals and reconcile with the emotions that you are experiencing. At the end of each day, write down:
- The Successes
- The Process (actions) behind your success
- The Challenges you faced and what you learned from them (reframing the negative experiences as a positive).
By doing a daily journaling session, you’ll feel better, find solutions and improve your mental health.
Use the wintertime to work on these valuable skills and habits, and you’ll be in great shape to start the season in the spring.
Enjoy the festive season!
David and the Golf State of Mind team.