The Mindful Golfer by Coach Leslie Russell

Categories: Blog

Mindfulness: “Becoming more aware of where you are and what you’re doing, without becoming overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you”.

As golfers, it is vital to be present for every shot you hit. Especially in a tournament or competitive match. Sounds easy, right? Hmmm, once you begin to go through your pre-shot routine and addressing the ball, you may feel as though you are on autopilot, going through the motions and unfocused. Your mind will wander. You may find yourself thinking about that three-putt bogie you just had on the last hole or needing to make birdie on the hole you are about to play. This feeling can happen when driving your car and not remembering the journey once you get to your destination. How about munching on those snacks while working on a project only to find that you have eaten the whole bag. “How did that happen”?

Did you ever forget what you were going to say in the middle of a sentence because you were distracted by a word that you said or heard now, making your mind wander in a different direction? Sometimes we can bring our thought back, other times it may be gone forever.

Mindfulness takes practice. As I said, when your mind is distracted before taking your shot, it helps to step away from the ball and focus on that very moment or second. “Nothing is as important as what you are doing at that moment”. What happened in the past is over, what happens in the future is out of your control. The only thing that matters is what you are doing right now!

Being mindful also means we can find ourselves distracted by our own inner critic and negative thoughts. You know, “What if I hit the ball into the water”? I don’t feel confident in my five iron”, or if someone else offers the suggestion of “playing it safe” when you were ready to go for
the green, hence losing your confidence in that shot. Anything with no, don’t, can’t, won’t in your thoughts need to be turned from a negative to a positive before hitting that ball. Again, step away from the ball when those negative thoughts take over. Only address the ball again when those thoughts turn to positives.

It is all about returning your attention to the present moment. Now, this takes practice, doesn’t everything?  Here are six steps to practice mindfulness.

• Pick a comfortable spot that feels calm and quiet to you
• Set a time limit – five or ten minutes should be good to start
• Notice your body-get into a comfortable position making sure you are stable and can stay in this position for awhile
• Focus on your breath going in and going out
• Notice when your mind has wandered-simply return your attention to your breathing
• Don’t obsess over the content of your thoughts – just come back.

In the meantime, find a way to phrase the last sentence without the negative PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

We hear a lot about anxiety these days. The following is a quick tip for grounding yourself.

• Look around
• Find five things you can see
• Four things you can touch
• Three things you can hear
• Two things you can smell
• One thing you can taste

You can do this!

Submitted by:  Coach Leslie Russell, Northern Regional Manager

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