In Part 1 of this series, I addressed the importance of Control when it comes to your thoughts. If you haven’t had a chance to read that post, please do so, as Part 2 contains the next lesson on selective awareness — playing with a narrowed field of focus.
Focus is attending to the task immediately before you, and nothing else.
When was the last time that was easy in the game of golf? So often when standing at address, players struggle with their thoughts of reliving the past, or worrying about the future.
For example, you may have just birdied a hole, and find yourself on the tee thinking, “If I can birdie two more holes today I will shoot 74!” Or perhaps you find yourself trying to come back from a battle in the sand, resulting in a triple bogey and are thinking, “That was ugly! I can’t believe how badly I hooked that last drive. I’m not going to do that again!” In neither example are the golfer’s thoughts centered on the task before him.
Staying in the present is the first step.
Maintaining a narrow field of focus is the second part of the equation, because it allows you to react automatically with control and intensity.
Your job when you step up to address is to simply react to your target. But those who take that position without being decisive and committed to the shot, find their minds still fielding and processing information.
Trying to concentrate is not concentrating.
Focus is a relaxed and directed state of mind – passive not active. Your mind is clear of irrelevant thoughts, your body is free from tension, and your focus is limited to perfect execution of the skill.
Being selective in what you attend to means you are passively not reacting to the internal/external stimuli that could distract you from performing your task with excellence. The goal is to decrease the amount of attention you give to things that are irrelevant to your present task and increase the level of attention you give to the things that are relevant. Simply put, you are focusing on the important things over which you have direct control. The more you master this skill, the easier it is to regain control when you do become distracted.
Step 1 – Make of list of all the things over which you have direct control when it comes to your golf game, and compare that to a list of everything over which you don’t have control (i.e., weather, other players). And note that your final score, or where you end up on the leader board is not directly under your control.
Step 2 – Once you have your two lists, circle the items on the uncontrollables list on which you’ve wasted time, energy and emotion being frustrated about the fact that they are not in your sphere of influence.
When it comes down to it, you have more than enough to attend to on the controllables list, and that is where you need to direct your focus. Refer back to your lists after every round when recalling less that ideal shots or putts, and ask yourself, “Was that miss hit within the realm of what I can control or not?” If no, then take note of the lesson, rather than wasting energy, and move forward. If yes, then take a moment to decide what you could have done differently if you had a do-over, focusing more on the great shot you’d like to produce next time, rather than the mistake you just made.
Much of the mental baggage you create is your reaction to things on which you should not be centering your attention. In order to move your game to the next level, learn to simplify, and streamline your thoughts to set yourself up for success. If you have specific questions about your game, I would be happy to talk to you. Contact Me to discuss how we can move your game forward.