The golf mental game is a different animal, even for elite athletes. It often perplexes baseball players that they can hit an eye-wateringly fast-moving ball with such accuracy and yet they perpetually struggle to make contact with a stationary golf ball. There are a number of possible explanations for this, some scientific, some common sense and some outrageously inaccurate.
For the sake of this article, and in an attempt to bring the matter back to our internal buddy the Chimp, we’ll assume the common sense approach that suggests having less time to think actually enhances our reaction.
It’s impossible to make the exact same golf swing every time, therefore there must be reactionary elements contained in a golf shot. When we play our best golf, a contributing factor is we access optimal degrees of freedom in our movements, allowing us to react in a similar way to our Major League slugger. This sense of fluidity reduces the impedance in our swing motion that is often created, ironically enough, by us trying to perfect the mechanics off our movements.
The following challenge, known as ‘Drop, Set, Hit’ can help us create feelings and memories in training that we can then transition onto the golf course in the form of process goals.
HOW IT WORKS
Step 1: To warm up for this challenge play it with no target. First ask a friend or coach to drop a ball, shouting “Drop” as they do it (Photo 1). At this signal you must shout “Set” (as you set up to the ball, Photo 2) and “Hit” as you begin your takeaway and then carry out the shot to completion (Photo 3).
Step 2: After getting a feel for the challenge, the word “hit” should be changed with something more “feeling” based, creating a positive sensation related to the golf shot or images of the shot and/or target.
These words, spoken out loud, silence the inner Chimp from processing any surrounding negative elements. Meanwhile, by reducing the reaction time we also sweep away that outcome fear that athletes like our baseball player simply doesn’t have the time to recognize.
The ultimate goal of this challenge is for you to not only gain feelings of freedom and flow in your game, but to also actively discover feelings and images you can store in your brain, helping you maintain a focus that brings you ever closer to your intention.
We can build up the intensity of this challenge by working through the following levels:
Level 1 — A single target
Level 2 — Random targets
Level 3 — Random targets and shot shaping
Level 4 — Golf course approach shots, short game and putting
HOW DOES IT HELP
This challenge provides very little time for you to be subjected to elements that create technical paralysis or negative self-talk that can occur when you’re allowed to dwell on a shot and all its associated outcome baggage.
This challenge can help you create a powerful process goal that can be used in the Execution phase of the OSVEA 5 components of a golf shot.
For more information on Iain Highfield and his OSVEA system at Bishops Gate Golf Academy and the International Junior academy, e-mail him at [email protected]