The Mental Side of your Golf Swing

Emotional states harness energies that drive and motivate a golfer to either push the limits of their game further or cause them to choke under pressure. In the world of performance, arousal is a real psychological state that’s linked, in its most ultimate form, to one’s ability to establish peak performance only if used effectively. The varying forms of arousal (Somatic, Cognitive, behavioral), one being a physiological experience while the other a psychological, coexist together to create the emotional elixir we all recognize  as anxiety or excitement.

We can all agree that high levels of arousal, which primarily result in performance anxiety, can prove to be a negative and evidently a destructive state if left neglected and uncontrolled. During such levels of anxiety, the heart rate increases, breathing patterns change as there is an influence on both the respiratory volume and the metabolic rate, and often there is evidence of both perspiration and numbness of the hands. Excitement, which also stems from high arousal, on the contrary proves to enhance performance, confidence and the overall human spirit and experience. So, the big question that everyone wonders is – how can two emotional states characterized by same psychological affects play such contradicting roles?

Essentially there exists a rather fine line between most forms of energy. When observant, we can appreciate similar formulas of coexistence between love and hate, good and bad, brilliance and insanity, and in this particular case anxiety and excitement. Intriguingly enough one can make the argument that if both states evolve from the same seed, that potentially the modes that we exist within are simply a matter of preconditioned choices! In the case of golf and performance, the sport that requires a temperament unlike any other; anxiety, fear and stress are all too prevalent. And while there is an extensive spread of tailored solutions for this rather universal human reaction, the most effective method of transforming anxiety into a productive energy is to revise it into its alternate form best known as excitement!

Redirecting energy is vital in the world of golf. Ruminating on the threats posed by anxiety can begin the spiraling effects of focusing on potential threats, questioning your decision making, and getting overly quick on the greens – just to name a few.  But through practice one can regain control of their emotional state under such circumstances and begin to focus on the potential opportunities ahead by redirecting themselves through exciting/positive thoughts, talk and behavior! Simple expressions of excitement can reverse the emotional state triggered by anxiety and naturally enhance the overall performance.

Thoughts, feelings, and most importantly verbal statements of excitement can allow the mind to embark on the journey of all the potential possibilities of a triumphant finish. It is important to remember that ‘Thought precedes Motion’, which simply means that if you want your body to perform at its best you must first indicate those messages to your mind. In the world of psychology, verbal guidance is considered to be far more effective than most are willing to believe – the trick is to place it into practice and allow time and consistency to unravel the treasures of the potential that’s within.  Of course, assuming that the verbal guidance is consistent with messages that entail excitement and positivity – and not the opposite.

So on the next occasion that you find yourself triggered and feeling anxious while standing over the ball, my suggestion is to take a step back and verbally tell yourself ‘I am excited, and this is going to be a good day’ ‘I’ve thought my strategy through and feel committed to a shot that is going to get me ahead’ ‘You’ve got this’. Speaking these words may initially feel disingenuous, but in due time you will understand the authentic notions of excitement and exhilaration that you are instilling within yourself as your anxiety dissipates and your golf game prevails.

Mahsa Durbano
Mahsa S Durbano is a mental skills coach who operates under the Limitless Performance team of professionals. The organization assists athletes, professionals and high performers in achieving their goals, surpassing their challenges and learning how to turn up the dial on performance.

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