October 7 2013
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
The Presidents Cup this year had many exciting, yet soggy, days of play. On Saturday, many players went around Muirfield Village Golf Club in 34 holes in very wet conditions. Such days can wear out players, both physically and mentally.
To be fresh physically, you must be in top shape. This takes a steady diet of working out, with weights and cardio training.
The same principle goes for the mental game, particularly your concentration. You must develop a stead diet of focus to stay fresh throughout a round of golf.
To accomplish this, think of concentration as a reservoir of mental energy. To perform at your best, you must let your concentration flow when you are hitting your shot. However, if the flood gates are wide open and you focus intensely for an entire round (or longer as we saw at The Presidents Cup), the reservoir may be emptied too soon. To conserve these mental resources, the floodgates must be opened at the most appropriate times.
Also, think of your concentration level like a wave that builds and then crescendos at the right moments. You must peak in your focus in order for you to play your best golf in tough conditions. In order to acquire both of these concentration principles, golfers need to implement an effective concentration routine. Here are my recommendations to accomplish this:
1. Have your concentration routine be composed of three main levels. To enter each level, imagine a dial that releases the flow of concentration from your reservoir. As the dial is turned up, the concentration flow increases and the golfer becomes more focused.
2. Developed different self-statements to crank the dial up.
3. The first level is when you are just enjoying the walk to your ball. The dial is set at a "1." You can have a saying here such as, "have fun."
4. At the second level, the dial needs to be cranked up to a “5”, and the concentration begins to flow more rapidly. Here, you are about 10 feet from the ball and begin to start thinking of your shot, such as the wind, distance, etc. You can have a saying like, “let’s go” to crank up the dial.
5. The third level is when you start your routine. Here the dial needs to be set at a “10” and the concentration is flowing at full capacity. Here you should have saying such as, “it’s show time” at the start of your routine.
6. After the shot, return the dial back to a “1” and enjoy your walk to the ball, unspoiled without any negative or analytical thoughts.
If you get mentally burnt out during or after a round, try this concentration routine. You will see that it keeps your play and mind fresh for the entire round.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf. He is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. Dr. Gregg is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players. You can see more about him at www.drgreggsteinberg.com, and you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org for any comments or questions about your mental game.