Monthly Improve Your Game from the OGA
Train Your Brain to Support Your Game!
By Debbie Bensching, President and owner of Mind Empowered Sport Performance (MSW, ACSW, LCSW, MSWAC, CHT)
Staying mentally sharp throughout an 18-hole round takes a great deal of mental discipline. Many of us armature recreational golfers don’t quite have the game to allow us to quit our day job and go on tour. This is probably in part because we are good not great athletes however it is likely many of us are suffering from lapses in focus and mental discipline. Not an epiphany you may think, but way too many golfers, both amateur and some professional focus solely, or a majority of their efforts, on physical training rather than brain training! Even if you don’t have the athleticism of a great golfer you can have the mental skills and discipline of a great golfer.
Improving your mental discipline and doing some brain training doesn’t have to be overly time consuming. Having the right things in your mind at the right time is a giant step toward sustained focus that results in a smooth swing. An easy place to start is to consider your swing routine.
Does your routine flow according to how the brain works best for optimal swing performance? Yes, there is a best order according to our brain that supports mind – body coordination, focus, and autonomic function for our swing.
Most people understand our brain has both analytical and emotional or global functions, commonly referred to as left and right brain function. Engaging and relaxing the analytic mind at the right time is crucial for a great swing. Engaging in active thinking, planning, or deciding requires analytical brain function and limits autonomic global function. The most important factor here is to group the elements of your routine according to how the brain works. First make sure active left-brain mental activity such as figuring out distance; choosing your club, determining a target, etc is completed first. Once completed and committed to the selected shot simply engage in setting up with the elements that create the relaxation and focus, and then take your stroke. Even a moment of wondering about your setup, line, or club selection engages the analytic mind. This disrupts focus, relaxation and autonomic function of the balanced mind-body connection and a smooth swing.
Perhaps golf is considered one of the hardest mental sports because it’s you versus yourself and the golf course. The four-and-a-half hours of walking the course provide a great deal of opportunity to think at the wrong time. Give some thought to the fact that, you can train and practice, and practice, but until you train your brain to support your game you might not be able to progress much further. Perhaps you might want to spend some time training your brain to support your game. I can help.