You and The Pros
Are you familiar with the concept of the zone? This quasi-metaphysical state is the key to elevating your game beyond the level of swing mechanics.
Take a moment right now to recall one of your best shots. Can you recall what you were thinking? Did the shot result from “trying harder”, or did you have the feeling it was going to be good before you even started your swing?
Even though the ideal state often defies description, the one element every player acknowledges is a feeling of trust in their ability.
Every golfer, at every skill level, has the ability to enter the zone. You may not have the physical prowess to hit three-hundred yard drives, but any golfer can learn how to create an ideal state of mind and body. It begins with conscious intention and, with consistent practice, becomes automatic.
The notion of being in a zone or bubble alludes to the ability to focus on a specific target. This implies that a player is oblivious to any thoughts of potential failure. Your ability to enter the zone on any given day is pre-determined before you get to the golf course.
Many athletes go into seclusion the day before a big game. Most of us do not have the luxury of locking ourselves in a hotel room, but we can practice getting into the zone on the way to the golf course.
Have you ever been upset over a reckless driver? Unless you can dismiss the emotional fallout, it will affect your first few holes and possibly the entire round. The more you re-live the experience, the harder it is to establish a rhythm; your swing remains stuck on fast forward.
Entering and maintaining the zone is a matter of practice. One simple way is to set aside five minutes a day to replay a poor shot in your mind. As you see the memory, feel your body relax, accept the result and replay the shot until you see the ideal result. Now focus on how you feel after hitting a perfect shot.
Music can help counteract the effects of an upsetting situation. Every player has to find their own unique anchor or technique, that they can fall back on to quickly recover from the inevitable poor shot.
The term “mental toughness” has connotations of brute force. Perhaps the phrase “mental calmness” would demystify the zone for the once-a-week golfer. If the game really is ninety percent mental, then rehearsing techniques for entering the zone should be part of every practice routine.
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