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The Tour Report

November 19 2013

12:58 PM

The Mental Game: Selective amnesia

By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

Do you rapidly recall of all the flubs you hit last week as you prepare for this next chip shot? Do you only think of that snap hook that went out of bounds as you set up for that important tee shot?

It is very easy to recall all your bad shots and allow that to poison your mind on the course. But the great players do the opposite; they have selective amnesia.

Just ask Harris English, the winner of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. Harris English said that he remembers the good shots and can’t recall his flubs or mishaps on the course. His mental-game ability to possess selective amnesia is one key factor that has led to his rapid rise to greatness on the PGA TOUR.

Here are a few suggestions to develop selective amnesia in your mental game:

1. Use thought stopping. When you begin to think of that flub or snap hook, say “ Stop” in your mind as loud as you can. Then replace that with a positive image of a great chip or a drive down the middle.

2. Use the rubber band technique. If the above method does not work, tie a rubber band around your wrist. When that negative thought creeps into your mind, snap the rubber band. Not so hard that it hurts but just painful enough to get your attention. Then replace it with a positive image. Both of these techniques are reconditioning your mind to let go of bad images and thoughts and replace them with desired ones.

We are always told that forgetfulness is a bad trait. That’s true when it comes to forgetting where you put your keys or wallet. However, forgetfulness can be a desired mental skill when it concerns your history of bad shots.

Great players like Harris English have developed great mental habits such as selective amnesia. You too can develop this essential mental skill with practice!

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players.  Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf. Inquire about coaching as well as get your autographed copy at www.drgreggsteinberg.com