• Course Exercise: Thought Management

    Being prepared for the unprepared is a big strength of a mentally tough golfer. The nice thing is, you can practice this everywhere. On the course, during practice rounds and even at home, in the car or in line at the supermarket. Train yourself with the exercises underneath, and you’ll be surprised how well you can respond to anything.

    1. Nervous before start of tournament competition:
      • Repeat your pre-shot routine in your mind with focus on breathing (for example 4 breaths in through the nose ,belly goes out, and 6 breaths out through the mouth, belly goes in) 
      • Repeat key words (like :go for it, I am prepared) and focus on your game plan for each hole
      • Focus solely on your diaphragmatic breathing

    Learning to Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing

    1. Sit or lie in a comfortable place. Close your eyes.
    2. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen. The bottom hand should do the moving. The top hand should remain still or only move as the bottom hand moves.
    3. Inhale through your nose for about 4 seconds, feeling your abdomen expand. (You may feel slight tension the first few times you inhale.)
    4. Hold your breath for 2 seconds.
    5. Exhale very slowly and steadily through your mouth for about 6 seconds. The mouth should be relaxed.
    6. Repeat for 5-15 minutes.

    When first learning diaphragmatic breathing, it is common to feel some uneasiness or lightheadedness.  Quicken your breath if you feel light headed. After a session of diaphragmatic breathing, allow yourself time to adjust to your surroundings — do not stand up too quickly.

    Diaphragmatic breathing is an excellent tool for relaxation, but it is a skill that requires practice. With practice it becomes easier over time, and eventually can be done with eyes open, while sitting, standing or even walking. 

    1. Do mental rehearsals to maintain your focus (walk a few holes or the whole 18 holes in your mind)
    2. Go over your competition plan for the tournament. You have written down what club you want to use on every hole (in combination with the weather), where to stand on the tee, where to aim etc.
    3. Focus on your emotional preparation for the competition (do your breathing exercises, visualize yourself playing the course executing your routine and having fun on the course, watch a movie, walk in nature, visit family…)
    4. First hole in competition – bogey or worse:
      • Repeat your “Key Words” like “Let’s go! or get it back! or…….? Find key words for yourself that get you back in the present.
      • Use a Relax, Regroup, Refocus plan (RRR)
        1. Relax (after each shot focus on good diaphragmatic breathing, relaxed body, quiet mind), 
        2. Regroup (what went well, what do I need to do-prepare- for next shot/hole, 
        3. Refocus (Talk to myself positively,work my routine, and set a goal for the next shot/hole) plan between shots, holes.
      • Establish your rhythm and tempo to take control of your mind, body and emotions. Help yourself by saying words like tempo and rhythm to yourself or visualize a player with a tempo or rhythm you like or…)
      • Evaluate and adjust your strategy with your caddy. 
    5. External distractions :
      • Control your eye movement in the direction you want –
        such as grass in front of your feet/ trees, breathing, clouds etc..
      • Repeat key words (like go for it! accept!( the result of the shot)
    6. Internal Distractions
      • Be external – talk with caddies, teammates, fellow competitors.
      • Refocus your attention on your routines or another process goal like taking perfect aim on every shot.
      • Move your body by stretching and breathing to facilitate positive energy going out.
      • Focus on your cycles of concentration: pre-,in-,post- and in between shot routines.

    Impact of Negative Thoughts

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