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The Responsibility Component of an Athlete’s Mindset

By Gary Wise, Mental Performance Specialist, Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy (Garyw@ggga.com) 

Today it only takes one click of the mouse to find a hundred articles on “goal setting”, “the importance of goals”, “short and long term goals”, “how to set goals” or a motivational saying with regards to goals.

In my opinion, right behind setting realistic goals in importance, is the athlete’s willingness to take ownership and respect for the PROCESS necessities required in order to fully prepare to reach those goals.

First and foremost does your ability, goals and attitude all match up? If not what needs to change?

Let’s start with your short and long term goals. Are the realistic, made with proper consideration to your current abilities, prioritized in conjunction with your coach’s technical plan, and therefore attainable? If the answer is yes to these questions, then we must ask; is your attitude and focus in sync with the requirements needed to reach your goals? Very often this is the weak link in the chain of success.

One of my very few favorite sayings is “It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference”. Now ask yourself are you willing to prepare at the level required to reach your goals?

Creating healthy structured routines are a great way to manage yourself throughout the process of achieving success. Training routines, study routines, visualization routines, tension control through breathing drills, pre and post shot routines are all components of success that need to be developed and practiced just like hitting golf balls on the range.

Let’s start with a simple strategy on how we manage ourselves during a practice round. Practice rounds are an opportunity to develop trust and self-belief in your technical improvements, exercise course management skill, develop the feel required to shape shots in order to achieve the ball flight shape to match your target selection. This is all done within the frame work of repeatable pre and post shot routines in range training, on course practice and most importantly in tournament play.

All these process goals can be achieved while still having fun!!!

Here’s how; let’s divide your time spent on the golf course in a practice round and tournament play, into three different levels of focus and energy.

  • In between shots (post shot routine, mindfulness and preparation)

This first phase of a “complete” pre/post shot routine starts with the post-shot component. This is a specifically structured process that enables the athlete to either reinforce the positive feelings that lead to a great shot or the good feel of a shot, by rehearsing the shot again and taking a mental note of the process that lead upto the desired outcome.

It is also a time for acceptance and to let go of any and all negative thoughts created by the results of a poor swing or outcome. Immediately recommit yourself to the vision (intent) of the shot played, rehearse a step drill and the specific feel swing (action) that you were committed to. Now take a few deep breaths, wipe your club face (reset trigger) and begin the process of preparing for the next shot (challenge).

The time spent in between shots is the player’s time to take in nutrition, rehydrate, manage your emotions through energy regulating breathing and creating positive self image thoughts and by visualizing the feel and shot shape of the shot challenge you are planning for. This is also the time to enjoy your fellow players company and the fact that you’re lucky enough to be out on a golf course.

  • Pre-shot Routine

1) Think BoxAnalyze data thoroughly. Identify PLAN to match the shot challenge. Your plan is now your INTENT, select your club, visualize your intent and commit to the plan.

2) Feel BoxPREPARE deliberately, perform positive self-talk. Your rehearsal swing must match the set up, path and feel required to perform the ACTION needed to execute the intent of your plan. Stand with positive body language, perform controlled FOCUS / TENSION release breathes as you engage target.

3) Play Box – Step into Play Box with trust. Set Grip, Alignment, Posture / Spine Tilt. Recheck target once, Re-ENGAGE ball, ACTIVATE your move away TRIGGER. Action to match intent with TEMPO and FLOW.

An athlete’s ownership and pride in their routine process will reflect in their improved performance, and bring their reality more in line with their expectations. The athlete’s willingness to embrace their processes will not only lead to better results but without doubt lead to an improved self-image and more fun…

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