Concentration, confidence, control and commitment (the 4C’s) are generally considered the main mental qualities that are important for successful performance in most sports.
- Concentration – ability to maintain focus
- Confidence – believe in one’s abilities
- Control – ability to maintain emotional control regardless of distraction
- Commitment – ability to continue working to agreed goals
The techniques relaxation, clearing the mind and visualization will assist a golfer to achieve the 4C’s.
This is the mental quality to focus on the task in hand. If the golfer lacks concentration then their athletic abilities will not be effectively or efficiently applied to the shot. Research has identified the following types of attention focus:
- Broad Narrow continuum – the golfer focuses on a large or small number of stimuli
- Internal External continuum – the golfer focuses on internal stimuli (feelings) or external stimuli (ball)
The demand for concentration varies in Golf:
- Golf requires short bursts of deep concentration followed by sustained focus between shots.
- Strategies to improve concentration are very personal. One way to maintain focus is to set process goals for each round. The golfer will have an overall goal for which the golfer will identify a number of process goals that help focus on specific aspects of the course. For each of these goals the Golfer can use a trigger word (a word which instantly refocuses the golfer’s concentration to the goal) e.g. Thought Free Golf uses the trigger words “Ready, Relax, Release”
Confidence results from the comparison a golfer makes between the goal and their ability. The golfer will have self confidence if they believe they can achieve their goal. Remember the quote: “You only achieve what you believe”.
When a golfer has self confidence they will tend to: persevere even when things are not going to plan, show enthusiasm, be positive in their approach and take their share of the responsibility in success and failure.
To improve self confidence, a golfer can use visualization and mental imagery to:
- Visualize previous good shots to remind them of the feel of the swing.
- Imagine various scenarios on the course and how to cope with them.
Confidence is a positive state of mind and a belief that you can meet the challenge ahead – a feeling of being in control. It is not the situation that directly affects confidence; thoughts, assumptions and expectations can build or destroy confidence.
High self confidence
- Thoughts – positive thoughts of success
- Feelings – excited, anticipation, calm, elation, prepared
- Focus – on self, on the task
- Behavior – give maximum effort and commitment, willing to take chances, positive reaction to set backs, open to learning, take responsibility for outcomes
Low self confidence
- Thoughts – negative, defeat or failure, doubt
- Feelings – tense, dread, fear. not wanting to take part
- Focus – on others, on less relevant factors (coach, umpire, conditions)
- Behavior – lack of effort, likely to give up, unwilling to take risks (rather play safe), blame others or conditions for outcome
Identifying when an golfer feels a particular emotion and understanding the reason for the feeling is an important part of helping a golfer to gain emotional control. A golfer’s ability to maintain control of their emotions in the face of adversity and remain positive is essential to successful performance. Two emotions that are often associated with poor performance are anxiety and anger.
Anxiety comes in two forms – Physical (butterflies, sweating, nausea, needing the toilet) and Mental (worry, negative thoughts, confusion, lack of concentration) Relaxation is a technique that can be used to reduce anxiety.
When an athlete becomes angry, the cause of the anger often becomes the focus of attention. This then leads to a lack of concentration on the task, performance deteriorates and confidence in ability is lost which fuels the anger – a slippery slope to failure.
Golf performance depends on the player being fully committed to the game over many years. In competition with these goals the golfer will have many aspects of daily life to manage. The many competing interests and commitments include work, studies, family/partner, friends, social life and other hobbies/sports.
Commitment comes with positive feedback. A great shot, a low score and even praise from other players can fuel the commitment level to the game.
When playing golf, commitment to the game can be undermined by:
- a perceived lack of progress or improvement
- not being sufficiently involved in skills development through lessons
- an injury
- lack of enjoyment (Focusing on the bad shots)
- too much anxiety about performance – competition
- becoming bored
Successful emotional states
The following are emotional states experienced with successful performance:
- Happy – felt that this was my opportunity to demonstrate an excellent performance. Felt I could beat anybody.
- Calm and nervous – Felt nervous but really at ease with these feelings. I accepted and expected to be nervous but felt ready to start.
- Anxious but excited – Felt so ready to compete but a little nervous. Nerves and excitement come together
- Confident – I remembered all the successful training sessions and previous best performances
Psychology Skills Training
Training for the golfer should aim to improve their mental skills, such as self-confidence, motivation, the ability to relax under pressure, and the ability to concentrate. Mental golf skills training has three phases:
- Education phase, during which the golfer learns about the importance of psychological skills and how they affect performance
- Acquisition phase, during which the golfer learns about the strategies and techniques to improve the specific psychological skills that they require
- Practice phase, during which athletes develop their psychological skills through repeated practice, simulations, and actual competition.
Mental Golf Skills Program
Taking lessons from a pro is essential to developing the mechanical skills required to be a good golfer. Having good mechanical skills paired with good mental skills is the key to greatness. The Thought Free Golf program is the best mental golf skills training program available to rapidly achieve the 4C’s. It is designed to develop a thought routine that is used as effectively as a swing routine. It will both focus and relax the golfer with every shot. Thus driving up consistency and lowering the score. It is key to taking your game to the next level.