When it comes to golf, it’s important to prepare not just physically with lessons, time on the range, and the course, but also mentally. PGA Professional Kelly Sotière teaches at the Terre Blanche Golf Academy in the South of France where she's a specialists in Heart Coherence.
What is this you may ask? It's a method that can help you mentally prepare for the course and with the simple tips below you can step out onto the fairway and feel positive about your game.
It doesn't matter how long you’ve played golf for, the feeling of standing on the first tee with no idea what to expect in the next 4-5 hours is one of the best qualities of the game. Golf can often be a love/ hate relationship as you have time to contemplate each good/bad shot which means that our mind set is the biggest factor in our performance.
Think about this. Why is it, with the same swing and equipment you can shoot 80 one week and the next, well we don’t speak about that round!
When you think about the mental side of golf what comes to mind?
- The voice that nags at you when you play
- The frustration that occurs after a poor shot
- Your confidence levels
- Your ability to focus on what you want to do, as opposed to what you’re trying to avoid
With that in mind, I’ve got a couple of tips to help you develop a consistent mental approach to each round you play the next time you hit the fairways.
- Stay focused on the shot your about to play (present)
- Don't think about your last shot, there’s nothing you can do about it (past)
- Don’t plan ahead (future)
Why is it important to have this mind set?
Staying in the present will allow you to focus on the shot your about to play, block out your surroundings and focus on your swing. If you leave the present, your brain will be focused on other elements that are less important than that shot, factors that bring emotions such as stress, thinking ‘If I don’t hit it onto the green, then I won’t make birdie’ and it will increase your heart rate, you might get sweaty hands etc. which could hinder your play.
We’ve all experienced a game where we’ve paid more attention to other groups out on the course, watching our playing partners game or being self-conscious of others watching you play. Those thoughts creep in that my swing doesn't look as good as theirs, I’m not hitting the ball as far as them or complaining that the weather is too windy!
We can agree that some of these factors are out of our control, however if you can keep your focus on your game, you can perform in those conditions.
When I go to hit a shot, I look at the below parameters as these are the areas that I need to think about before playing each shot.
- the lie of the ball
- the slope
- the distance to carry the ball
- the total distance
- the trajectory I need to play
- the club that makes this distance
Using your specific routine before each shot will allow you to stay on this present time, this time of decision that only depends on you.
I often see players holding their breath whilst they are in motion and one of the first things I say to golfers, is “just breathe”. Allowing yourself to breathe during your swing and on the course helps to have a consistent rhythm and contact with the ball. It can help you to relax or to be more dynamic, depending what you need on the specific situation. This method is called heart coherence and it is one of the best methods for golfers
Because it is very easy to use. With this method you can adapt it to every kind of situation you may face on the course. You can even use it while you are walking to the next shot!
How does it work?
A normal breathing is ranged from 8 to 10 seconds for an Adult, so 6 breaths a minute: 4-5 sec inhale and 4-5 sec exhale.
By changing the duration of your breath, the time of inhaling and exhaling you can adapt depending the situation as follow:
- 6 seconds inhale - 4 seconds exhale to be more dynamic (for example at the end of a game on the last holes of the course, if weather is warm, if you haven’t slept well
- 4 sec inhale - 6 sec exhale to relax (in the situation of after a bogey, a 3-putts)
Focus on the shot you are about to take the next time you’re out on the course, block everything out and focus on your rhythm. If you hit a great shot walk the fairway with pride and try out the breathing technique above. If you hit a shot and it’s not landed where you wanted it to go, be positive as you walk to find your ball, work on exhaling a little bit longer and relax before you hit your next shot.
Give it a try, you won’t regret it!
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