Practice is important, but for your best game, you need to train your mind as well. Golf is a mental game as well as a game of skill.
Mental golf tips can help you to play better and sharper. Sports psychology is big business for a reason. By training your mind as well as your body, you can get the results you want faster and easier. Mindset training, and specific golf mental tips, can help you to find your best game.
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Mental Training for Sports
In any sport, a winning mindset has several parts: goals, accountability, persistence, and focus. Mental tips for golf focus on these as well.
Goal: Your goal is what you want to achieve. You should have long-term and short-term goals. Your long-term goal may be to participate in an upcoming game or tournament. Your short-term goal may be to practice a skill for a certain amount of time, or to improve your results over your last practice session.
Mind Tools advises you make your goals S.M.A.R.T.:
- Specific: A definite benchmark that you can tick off when you’ve achieved it. “To be a better golfer” isn’t specific. “To lower my handicap from 11.5 by the end of the year” is. Many experts’ mental golf tips start with being specific.
- Measurable: Your goal needs to be something you can easily measure. Keep track of your practice score, and try to beat it by a little each time.
- Attainable: Your goal needs to be reasonable. “To practice for six hours every day” is not attainable for most people. Setting an overambitious goal is an invitation to failure. Instead, try “to hit ten putts a day in the office.”
- Realistic/ Reasonable/ Relevant: “To lower my handicap from 11.5 to 1.0 by the end of the month” isn’t realistic for most people. Setting the bar too high is a great way to set yourself up for disappointment. Many articles on mental golf tips suggest a smaller goal that will stretch you, but that you’re pretty sure you can attain.
- Trackable: Being able to measure your progress will give you the motivation to continue. Some trackable golf goals include: lowering handicap, lowering your number of putts per round, and mastering a particularly difficult hole.
You can read more about goal setting and other mental golf tips in this article from The Golf State of Mind. You can also find specific golf goal setting tips at Peak Sports.
Accountability, Persistence, and Focus
Accountability: Accountability means holding yourself responsible for your progress. If slacking off has no consequences, you won’t be motivated to train the way you need to. A training partner can help motivate you to work toward your goals. If you hold each other accountable, you will both improve. An accountability journal can help, too. Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum talks about accountability and training in this article. Golf coach Dave MacKenzie gives mental golf tips in this article, which focuses on coaching and accountability.
Persistence: You won’t always feel motivated, and you won’t always be able to practice when, or as much as you plan to. You will fail now and then. One of the most important mental tips for golf is to accept this, move on, and start again. Like the saying goes, “Success is falling down nine times and getting up ten.” You can take inspiration from the ups and downs one golfer’s training at Golf is Mental.
Focus: One of the most important golf mental game tips is focus, that is, avoiding distractions. Focus on your upcoming shot. After a bad shot or mistake, learn to regain your focus. Pete Styles recommends mentally dividing up your game into smaller mini-games in order to look at them differently. Instead of looking at 18 holes as 18 holes, try seeing them as a series of three six-hole games or two nine-hole games. By changing your focus, you may see things you didn’t see before.
Specific Golf Mental Tips
Have a Pre-Shot Routine: One of golf instructor Tony Schumacher’s mental golf tips is to have a pre-shot routine, or process. Going through the process helps you to focus on the shot, rather than on earlier mistakes, or fear of future mistakes. Pete Styles has a sample pre-shot routine you can try out.
Have a Pre-Round Strategy: Another of Schumacher’s tips is to know where the hazards are in advance, and which club to use to avoid them. Planning which club to use, and which tee shot, will help you make your shot with confidence.
Prepare for Adversity: Sports psychologist Dr. Michael Lardon’s golf mental game tips center on anticipating adversity and preparing for it. He cites the saying, “Life is ten percent what happens, and ninety percent how you deal with it.” Lardon recommends remaining cool and working through difficulties — and this goes double if you’re doing fine but your partner is having a rough game. Another of Lardon’s mental golf tips is to make friends with a hole that’s giving you trouble, before you play that hole in a game. “Have some fun with it,” he says.
A Roundup of the Best Mental Tips for Golf
There’s no shortage of articles featuring mental golf tips, tricks, and strategies. Here are some of the ones we’ve found to contain the best mental tips for golf.
- The Mental Game of Golf at Sports Psychology Coaching
- Ten Tips to Build Confidence for Golf at Golf State of Mind (as well as this roundup of their golf psychology articles)
- How to Kill it This Year in Golf and Life at Adam Young Golf
- Mind Games: Five Tips on Golf Psychology from Golf Monthly
- The Five Best Mental Golf Warm-Up Exercises from Shipsticks
- Mental Golf Tips: 10 Proven Ways to Supercharge Your Golf Game at Hitting It Solid
Set goals, stay positive, stay focused, stay strong. Keep yourself accountable, and keep yourself going. You can do this. Your best game is right around the corner.