Do you possess the characteristics that will enable you to optimally improve your golf game?
If you can put a tick next to many of these, probably not…
But don’t worry, due to a phenomenon called brain plasticity, everybody can improve their ‘flaws’
P.S. I am certainly not here to pretend I am the ‘ideal human’ for golf – I certainly tick some of these.
But I believe the real key is to be aware of what characteristics are unhelpful for your game and to improve them.
If thinking in golf lowered your scores. You and I would probably be playing some great golf every week.
Unfortunately for us and most other golfers thinking doesn’t lower scores, in fact too much of it usually destroys them.
Actually, rather than use the term ‘thinking’, I should I say – using too much stimuli from the left hand side of your brain.
You may or may not already know that the right hand and left hand side of our brain play very different roles…
To summarize the difference – the left hand side of the brain is very analytical and controls language. The right hand side is where you imagine, it’s where you feel, It’s where you play your best golf from.
But for most golfers, their left hand side of the brain is the one on fire. It Questions everything, fills you with doubtful self talk, unhelpful swing thoughts, it reminds you constantly of the trouble that looms…
Basically it’s a bit of a pain in the ass isn’t it??
Yes, you need it to decide what type of shot you are going to play, to find out the wind, where’s a good miss etc.
But once these decisions are made – the key is to turn it down a notch and activate more of the right.
The right hand side of the brain is a much quieter place and this is the side of the brain that will allow you to play your most fluent, free and effortless golf.
So how do you access it?
Unfortunately we can’t just tell ourselves to switch sides…believe me, I wish it was that simple.
Remember telling yourself to do anything is using language.
That’s why swing thoughts are not massively effective on the course, because again – too much left action.
I recently read a great book called ‘Be a Player‘ and the one thing that stuck out was this concept.
The book shows you simple ways as to how you can switch from thinking mode to what the book refers to as ‘playing mode’.
The book calls this a ‘Play box’ and it shows you sensory techniques which quietens the left and activates the right – the side where all the magic happens.
- Instead of thinking of a swing thought – focus on sensing the looseness in your shoulders for the whole swing.
- Or instead of thinking ‘please don’t hit it in the water’ – focus on picturing the pin whilst you’re looking at the ball.
- Or instead of thinking ‘I need to make birdie’ – just focus on the sound the ball makes when it strikes the ball.
These are a just a few examples, but there’s loads of different sensory ideas you can use and the key is to find what works for you. The book suggests you have a few different ones in your play box.
I have barely scraped the surface here, but if you really struggle with an overactive annoying brain whilst playing golf, then this may be one of the best 10 quid’s you’ll ever spend.
Being impatient can come in many forms in golf – you could become impatient with a swing change, so you don’t follow it through.
You may become impatient on the course, so you do stupid things and throw away shots like confetti.
You could become impatient with your coach because he isn’t waving his magic wand and making you play magical golf after one lesson.
If you are generally an impatient person you probably experience all of these.
I know I certainly have!
And all of these things are going to be detrimental to your golf…
Improving your golf swing requires a ton of patience. In most cases you are not only trying to ingrain new moves but you are also trying to get rid of old ones. This all takes time.
To shoot good scores regularly requires patience. You are going to get lip outs, you are going to hit poor shots, you are going to get dodgy bounces. It happens to every single golfer on the planet. How well you ACCEPT all of these things, will have a huge say as to how good you get.
A coach needs time to improve you as a golfer. Just because you’ve thrown him a few quid, don’t expect miracles. A coach can only put you on the right path – it’s your job to walk down it.
Being patient in golf is a message I will always portray strongly. I think it’s one of the most critical characteristics to possess. Quite simply, if you have an abundance of patience then you have a head start over someone who hasn’t.
If you are not the patient type (like myself) just being aware of the fact that in golf things take time, I find helps.
Also setting myself little achievable goals which are on the edge of my current abilities (known as the goldilocks rule), I have found another great way to stay patient.
I believe that showing grit is an incredibly important characteristic to have as a golfer.
Showing grit not only gives you the best chance of shooting the lowest possible score on that given day. I believe it’s also a great asset to build confidence.
Some of your biggest confidence boosting rounds will not always be the ones where you are playing well and serenely ripping up the course…
But rather where things are not going so well and you manage to grind it out.
The golfer who gives up his rounds will never get it… that satisfaction and belief of being able to pull a round back from the depths of despair.
This is where real confidence is made from. Anyone can have good days, but it’s those that can grind a score out from the abyss that will get further in this game.
So why do so many golfers throw in the towel?
They go into the round with a score/performance in mind and as soon as they see this slipping away, well the round has become pointless.
In their mind it’s a failure anyway, so they might as well give up.
Expectations are a serial killer in golf.
Some of my best rounds (score wise) have happened when I had no expectations whatsoever
No expectations, much more relaxed, zero chance of throwing in the towel.
So if you find yourself throwing in the towel too often…
I would suggest forget expectation and focus on process.
I have a new found love for ‘process goals’. I talk about them in our ‘FREE EBOOK‘ and the reason they are great, is because they take your mind away from the outcomes. They free you from expectation.
Golfers get obsessed with outcomes:
– ”What am I going to shoot”?
– ”I hope I drive it well today”?
– ”I hope I get my handicap cut today”
Firstly this is all stuff in the future. This stuff cannot be controlled, of course you can try your best, but you cannot guarantee any of this stuff will actually happen.
And because of this lack of control, you brain doesn’t like it. It hates uncertainty.
So what does it love??
The total opposite – Certainty, things it has complete control over.
So your processes…
– Sticking to your sensory feelings over the ball.
– Reacting neutrally to bad play.
– Not hitting the shot until full commitment.
I would strongly suggest you pick 3/4 process goals for a round and your only expectation is to commit to them.
#4 Hot Headed
There’s no doubt about it but this game can be very frustrating at times. Even the most placid of human beings can be angered by it.
But for some golfers, their switch is a little too active.
Every bad shot is met by colorful language, negative self abuse or even clubs been thrown to every corner of the golf course.
Trust me I know what’s it like to be an angry golfer. To be honest most of the time you couldn’t tell whether I was playing golf or training to be a javelin thrower.
I was that bad.
And guess what – this attitude had a hugely negative effect on not only on my results, but also my enjoyment.
This angry golfer attitude didn’t only affect my performance in that round but it also negatively affected me for rounds to come.
It’s key to understand that your mind will have a much better chance of remembering emotionally charged events over boring ones. Events which spark an emotional response good or bad will always linger longer and louder in your memory.
So, let’s say you slice a shot in the trees on the 3rd hole at your home course and you react with anger. Next time you get on that hole, your brain will have a much better chance of remembering it, than if you were to not react at all.
(do the complete opposite to this guy)
This is why I talk about post shot acceptance a lot…
Imagine getting to a point where all you remember is your good shots?
Yes I know, this is fantasy stuff.
But having control over your emotions post shot can get you somewhat closer to that fantasy.
So, If you find yourself letting your emotions run wild after your inevitable poor play, I suggest you the set yourself a process goal of reacting as neutral as you can from your poor golf.
Also focus on reacting positively to your better or even average play. Sadly for most golfers, they get this the other way round. Good play is met with a neutral response and poor play is met with hugely negative emotion.
How you react in this time is what will form your memories. Its critical for your performance to make them good ones.
This does take time, but trust me, coming from a guy who threw a club nearly through an old ladies conservatory, I can tell you this is game changing stuff.
#5 Too Open Minded
Being close minded can be very detrimental to your improvement.
But I have to say – the opposite can work against you as well.
I am sure you have been there, you’re having one of those days – nothing is going right off the tee and you feel totally lost with your golf swing…
So your desperate. Absolutely desperate.
And along comes a good Samaritan of a playing partner with some of his wisdom…
”Heads coming up mate, you need to keep it down for longer”
So in your desperate state – you listen.
And you start practising keeping your head down for not only the rest of your round but in the next few sessions.
(hand over face)
And the worst part about it, it works for a couple of shots.
(This is mainly because you have directed your attention away from your desperate state and pretty much anything would have worked for a short period)
So you carry on ingraining this awful move and well you know the rest…
Look unless it is someone who is professionally trained to give you advice on swing mechanics, I urge you not to listen.
Most of the time I appreciate they are only trying to help…
But would you go to a builder to fix your broken leg??
Probably not…so please don’t let an amateur fix your golf swing.
If you need some advice that works then check our Academy out.
Its key to release that your brain is designed to do one primary job and that is to keep you safe. That is it.
It doesn’t care about you being happy or shooting wonderful scores on the golf course. It cares that you get home in one piece and that is pretty much it.
So to make sure you do this, you are given this great chemical called adrenaline. This is released from a tiny part of the brain (amyglada) when the brain senses danger or a situation which it thinks may cause you distress. This hormone then gifts you are with more awareness, more focus and your energy levels improve, all to deal with this situation.
So when you are back on the 3rd tee and it remembers you feeling previous pain, some of this lovely adrenaline is released.
Sounds great doesn’t it??
And it can be, if treated in the right way. But for most of golfers, they fear adrenaline. they hate feeling nervous, they hate their stomach churning, they hate their hands shaking.
I know I did…
And because you hate it, you react negatively too it.
You try everything in your power to stop the nerves. All you can think about is how nervous you are and you just wish they would all p**s off.
Trust me, I am coming from a hell of a lot of experience – having suffered and recovered from a pretty awful experience with anxiety.
At one point in time, even looking in the mirror scared the shit out of me.
So I know what it’s like.
OK, You may not be scared to look in the mirror but chances are you sometimes let nerves effect your performance.
In my experience (I am not a doctor by the way), the only way to approach anxiety is to welcome it with open arms. To see it as something that is given to you to keep you safe (which it is).
This tells the brain that there is no danger and it will stop releasing this wonderful hormone.
There’s loads of techniques people throw around to get rid of anxiety but it’s my belief that the only real way, is to let it be.
– Let your hands shake over a putt without adding more panic.
– Let your stomach churn without trying to stop it.
– Let your mind race on the first tee without trying to slow it down.
At the end of the day, anxiety is there to help you, so let it do it’s job and leave it alone. It’s when you add fuel to the fire, it becomes hard to control.
Of course some good deep breathing exercises which I discuss on the blog can really help in lowering these feelings, but in my experience, the real calmer is…acceptance.
The golfer that no matter how well he plays will always look on the downside.
”Yeah, but it was easy out there today wasn’t it”
”Got a bit lucky today to shoot that”
”Putting was still woeful today”
”Conditions were favourable and I took full advantage”
”Had a couple of lucky bounces but we all need a bit of luck now and again”
”Long game was great today, putting still needs some work though”
What you tell yourself is critical for your own self belief and confidence.
I have just picked three results there and flipped them on their head. How you perceive a situation is what it will become.
Reacting like the latter is going to build your confidence and still keep you improving on the things that are required.
This isn’t the same as dunking your head in the sand and pretending everything is rosy. It is simply using self talk in a far more constructive and useful way.
Trust me I was the most self critical golfer on the planet. However I played, I always picked up on the negatives and amplified them to deafening levels.
And please take it from me, this kind of self-defeating self talk is not going to help you, so I suggest from now on, really start taking note of what you are saying to yourself.
It is huge.
There you have it – some characteristics which I believe are destroying your game.
If none of these resonated with you, great.
But we both know that’s not true…
If you would like some more in depth help with your mindset, then please download our FREE Ebook and you can begin getting to work right NOW.
Also if you think any of your golfing pals could do with a bit of a character test like this – do not hesitate in forwarding this post to them.