Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Chill out to heat up your golf game. Here’s how

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By utilizing these mental tips, you’ll maintain your composure and perform at your best.

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There’s a good chance that everyone reading this has had one of those near blow up moments on the golf course. You know, where you let out a few curse words, talk negatively about yourself, and maybe even throw or slam your club out of frustration.

While we all know this is a bad look, it’s bound to happen when we aren’t playing up to our own expectations.

But as Chubbs Peterson once reminded Happy Gilmore, “remember, now, this isn’t hockey. You don’t play with raw emotion.”

Zach Johnson of the United States walks the 18th green during the first round of The American Express at La Quinta Country Club on January 18, 2024 in La Quinta, California

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While the advice may have come from a fictional character, it’s still the truth — golfers who let their emotions get the best of them are bound to fail.

So how can you calm yourself down when you’re not playing your best? By stopping, breathing, and resetting your mindset.

Thanks to GOLF Teacher to Watch Dr. Alison Curdt, here are some tips to effectively do that in order to perform your best. So take these to the course with you and use them as an advantage over anyone you play with.

How to maintain a strong golf mental game

“The game of golf requires a different level of intensity from other sports, which often require athletes to run fast, hit hard, jump high, or react to moving objects,” Curdt says.

“But because golf is constantly starting and stopping, you must have the ability to get pumped up about planning a shot, then quiet the mind and body to actually hit the shot — which isn’t easy for golfers to do all the time.”

Since golf is such a mental sport, it’s one area where you can differentiate yourself from other players.

If you’re able to control emotions and stay positive, you’ll likely succeed. If you think negatively and allow one bad shot turn into three bad decisions, you’ll always fail.

But Curdt says that, while focus is important, becoming too intense can backfire.

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“Golfers who try to become intense and overly focus on the golf course actually increase their levels of tension in their body,” she says. “Intensity is the ability to narrow down one’s focus, eliminate external and internal distractions, regulate emotions, and maintain a sense of self-discipline to continue routines in one’s game.

“So don’t let this intensity actually increase tension in your body by trying too hard.”

But how can you maintain your composure and eliminate both tension and stress when you’re not playing your best? Curdt says it’s all about chilling out, calming your mind, and using your breathing to slow things down for yourself.

“Erratic shots, poor contact, and increased frustration often results from tension,” she adds. “By using deep breathing exercises, this eliminates that tension.”

Curdt suggests the following exercise in order to do this.

“Practice by placing a hand on your belly, and, as you take a deep breath, feel your belly expand like a balloon. As you exhale, feel your belly deflate,” she says.

“This deep circulation of oxygen will help relax the muscles in your body, which, in effect, will reduce tension and let you swing freely. By taking the ‘tense’ out of your ‘intensity’, you’ll be able to chill out in order to see your performance heat up!”

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