A Golfer’s State Of Mind
There has always been the question of how much impact a golfer’s thoughts and state of mind play a part in his/her game. None-the-less, there is no denying the fact that our minds play a big part of “the mental game” that we call golf. This incredible sport is known for having “smarter athletes,” athletes that have the ability to perform constantly both mentally and physically under stress, pressure, and on the big stage. With this being said, it’s important for these athletes to clear their minds, focus, and relax when given the opportunity so they can consistently perform at peak levels.
Here are some obstacles golfers can constantly be faced with:
I. Latency Time – A golfer’s swing usually lasts no more than 3 seconds. This means for an average golfer, shooting around 100 for 18 holes, just 5 minutes of the 4-hour average it takes to finish those holes, is spent swinging the club. The rest of the time the player spends (almost the entire time period of the round) is in his/her head. All this time can give a golfer a lot to think about and can lead to positive or negative effects depending on the mental strength and focus of the golfer.
II. In reality the game of golf leaves little respite to the player. Courses are full of obstacles and every stroke counts. Each shot is unique and approached differently from the previous one; never will you have the exact same shot. Your mind must be able to think clearly, to rationalize, to weigh risks and rewards. It’s not always easy to keep mentally strong, especially after the constant onslaught of decisions and difficult situations. This is where a solid mentality is required which can be achieved through relaxation and meditation.
III. There are a variety of other sports that help to release stress through more of a physical effort. Despite the fact golf still requires physical ability, there is not as much an opportunity to release pent up stress and aggression through such a proper technical sport. There is need to relieve this stress to allow golfers to stay positive, competitive and focused.
Therefore, as much as golf requires a player to have the ability to control their emotions, it is equally important for the player to learn how to relax and absorb the pressure and adversity they will be faced with. This is learned through relaxation therapy or mindfulness meditation.
Importance of Meditation to Golfers
A US study published recently shows that a half an hour of active meditation a day can improve cerebral activity and promote positive results in the brain. Meditation, in the short term can improve self-control, mood and stress response. In an eight-week participation program involving active meditation, it was also related to changes in brain regions associated with memory, empathy and stress.
In golf, each swing requires the player to mentally envision their impact strategy and to perform their unique swing in constant routine while avoiding mental distractions, sounds, and external stimuli. Golfers should also be able to keep determined, focused, and have the ability to accept results without depression, emotional escapades, or euphoria. It is important to stay even keeled and focused.
There will always be players nervous before the first tee, players angry because they missed short putts, players doubting their iron choices and club selections. All these things have a potential for negative emotions, loss of confidence, concentration, and focus.
Taking into consideration all these potential mental obstacles associated with golf, meditation may prove to be equally essential to golfers for a strong mentality that is required to keep them focused and determined throughout the round. Below are some facts that suggest meditation as a channel to easily help golfers gain a mental edge and overcome negative thought obstacles that can constantly threaten their game.
Meditation Alleviates Stress
Stress can result from the consequence of anger, doubt, tension or uncertainty. The fore mentioned factors are formed due to things like the eagerness of players wanting to achieve high success levels, competition, the big stage, performing under pressure, etc.
Physically stress manifests itself through tight muscles and a shallow breath. These physical stress reactions can however be easily reduced through confident and relaxed breathing methods. Stress reactions can be greatly reduced and prevented through consistent practice of mediation. This helps golfers demonstrate qualities such as deep, powerful, calm and controlled thoughts.
Another suggestion that could help introduce golfers to learning such qualities could be yoga. This is another great way to greatly reduce stress hormones. Moreover, the distribution of endorphins will facilitate perfect physical, mental and emotional relaxation. This is ideal for learning and developing mental capacity.
The sequence of movements during a golf swing is extremely complex. By visualizing the swing while in deep relaxation in their mind, golfers can develop intuition (pace, sequence, body sensation), which leads to a consistent habit that occurs naturally.
Meditation Improves Eye Contact and Concentration
In golf, putting is a skill particularly susceptible to disruption and requires precise movements often performed under high emotional stress. Higher levels of “arousal” reduce the capacity of eye control resulting in performance degradation. Eye control and concentration having been a major focus of research in recent past, revealing that there is big difference in performance between those who meditated regularly and those who did not.
Studies have revealed that experienced players use meditation to improve their eye control and focus. Furthermore, researchers have recommended that meditation successfully aids in improving concentration during the round. Experienced players keep their eyes fixed on the back of the ball for about two second before the start of their backswing. Their gaze then remains stable in the same position for about 0.5 second after the ball has been hit.
From the application point of view, these insights on the processes show underlying psychomotor performance can drive the development of innovative training programs to optimize the control of gaze and facilitate the execution of motor activities, more accurately and efficiently. Most experienced players can learn how to develop longer and more effective periods of eye control, with consequent improvements in performance. Interruptions in eye control during performance under pressure can provide more information on how training interventions in this regard may instead facilitate performance. Effective control of attention is negatively affected by anxiety, causing consequent performance degradation.
Meditation is therefore a fantastic tool to help golfers achieve their goals. It allows you to stay in the present, forgetting about past troubles and future burdens. Through proper and consistent meditation techniques, golfers can help to develop subliminal thoughts that can turn into habits and aid muscle memory.
Through regular meditation, self-discipline is promoted. Although to effectively meditate it may only take 20 minutes a day (for some people 10 minutes a day has shown a huge difference), many individuals keep on falling back on excuses that the modern world doesn’t allow sufficient time. There is a need to create time for meditation especially for serious golfers looking for a way to separate themselves from the competition. Just by eliminating time watching TV or movies, you can easily find time to meditate, or maybe it’s just waking up 20 minutes earlier to start your day more focused and dialed in.
Another benefit funded by meditation, is the self-knowledge: A golfer who has no clue of his/ her strengths and weakness is, in most cases is going to always fall victim to competition. Self -knowledge greatly helps golfers assess their strengths and weaknesses, which helps in preparation of the next swing, hole, or round. Spending little time meditating before or after every round and adopting this into daily habit is the best action a golfer can take to begin seeing improvement.
Meditation allows golfers to watch their thoughts. With meditation, external stimuli can no longer dictate the player’s behavior. This is due to an increase in serenity and decrease in aggressiveness. The biggest change felt by golfers is self-forgiveness. Since one’s concentration is greatly improved, there is less chance of being distracted from your main focus. This greatly boosts a player’s determination since when they get to the course they will be completely focused and determined to conquer their goals.
In summary meditation benefits golfers in the following ways:
- Golfers will have the ability to stay consistently focused with their training thus keeping optimal performances.
- Enables golfers to have clear minds and achieve higher levels of confidence.
- Golfers will have the ability to eliminate tension and anxiety.
- Golfers will be able to play to their full potential.
- Golfers will have the ability to allow their subconscious to take over.
The fore mentioned benefits are evident and it is through our study and opinion that meditation should be a priority for any golfer looking to play their best golf and reach higher levels of their game achieving what many athlete’s know as “being in the zone.”
The golf game involves alternate short and precise technical movement with long waiting times or walking. The golfer must acquire three qualities that combine in a delicate balance. A single stray of thought can degrade the qualities. See below:
- An internalized flawless but relaxed concentration during the long minutes of flexible walking.
- A very technical mental assessment of external factors: wind, sun, distance, trajectory and choosing the right club
- A total relaxation of the body when the player begins his/her swing.
The teachings of meditation aid in the development of your mental will which includes:
- The art of vision that perceives in advance the actual path of the ball before the strike
- The art of doing without doing which is a form of erasing the ego engaging mind to naturally gesture patient repetition. In golf, players fight against themselves and falter if they don’t learn to transcend certain conditions by adjusting the balances of the present moment.
The practice of mindfulness and meditation helps to focus on the present and build a strong foundation conducive to a more serene relationship with oneself and the world regardless of the difficulties. The attention “to what is” develops a sense of presence and confidence. Gradually, mindfulness (attention at present) takes precedence in our lives regularly. Basically, he/she who meditates, finds happiness; he/she first tries to find satisfaction in the interior and then replicates it to the external environment. After that, he/she can then select exterior amenities with awareness and will not have to obsessively expel his/her inner emptiness that would otherwise catch up with him/her and affect concentration. Exterior pleasures are then merely pleasant accessories, not substance. So it goes of course: Once the surrounding area is quiet, you cannot run away from yourself, and there inevitably comes the apparent truth of what is going on inside. However, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you open the door to self-knowledge with the help of meditation. He/she who is determined to make a lasting inner satisfaction is planning his/her external surrounding in life rather than vice versa.