Mental Training for Golfers: Attitudes that Sabotage Commitment


Plateaus in performance sometimes occur when you don't see any measurable improvement in score even though you are working hard. "I'm practicing more than ever, but I don't seem to be shooting better scores," many players tell me in frustration. Thus, when you don't see gains in performance or have a coach pushing you daily, it is difficult for golfers to stay committed to their training. In this issue of Peak Performance Golf Insights, I discuss how golfers lose or sabotage their own commitment to training and ideas for how to increase commitment.

What is commitment? Commitment is a type of motivation. It is the ability to stick with a program, method, or philosophy and apply it daily over a long period even in times of adversity. How do you stay committed to your practice plan and goals? By reminding yourself of your dreams and performing the daily tasks you need to reach your goals.

The first step to improving commitment is to identify beliefs or distractions that sabotage your motivation. Armed with this information, you are in a position to change your attitude for the better. Here are seven ways people get sidetracked or sabotage their own commitment.

1. Impatience with improvement. Probably the number one form of sabotage. Golfers want a quick fix, something that works immediately, and if it does not work fast, they are prone to throw it away and not try it again. This may be true of both the mental and physical parts of the game. This is why a golfer jumps from one instructor to the next looking for the quick fix.

2. Rationalizations that sabotage your success. Rationalizations are excuses people use to avoid doing something. A smoker rationalizes why smoking is not harmful to smoke (smoking won't hurt me, I' don't inhale deeply"), for example. Golfers sometimes rationalize or justify why they should not go practice, take regular lessons, or work on their mental game. Some players think they will be ready to improve mentally when they are finished working on their swing. When are golfers ever finished with their swing?

3. Fear of trying and not succeeding. Are you afraid of going after your dream and not succeeding? There are no guarantees that if you work harder and put all your energy into getting better your game will improve. But some players can't stomach the fear of not reaching their goals if they give it their all.

4. Distracted by Others. Do others distract your from your mission? Do your friends ask you to go party every night? Are others giving you advise that contradicts what you are trying to do with your coach? If you said yes, then you are letting others distract you from your mission.

5. Over-load Syndrome. Warning: Too much information can be dangerous to your golf game. A few golfers I know actually sabotage their commitment to getting better by listening to every instructor and guru in golf and trying to integrate everything anyone has said about the golf swing or mental game. This person usually ends up more confused, wonders why he is not playing better, and then gives up trying.

6. Over-training Syndrome. Are you a candidate for burnout? Training too much can also cause you to spin your wheels because you are mentally and physically exhausted and are bothered by nagging injuries. Working 15 hours a day on your golf game will not lead to success. Marathon runners don't run 25 miles a day to prepare for competition. Your body needs rest, your mind needs a break. Yes, it is possible to work too much. There is a term for it in the workforce-workaholic.

7. Know-It-all syndrome. This is more rare with the players I work with, but one that should be mentioned. If you "know it all," then others, even experts, can't help you get better. The "know it all" is not teachable-he believes he already has the information to be successful.

Other forms of sabotage exist that limit a golfer's ability to commit to a program-whether that's a fitness program to improve strength, a swing training program to hit the ball better, or a mental game program to improve attitude-but these are the most prevalent. The fist step in making positive changes is to identify self-sabotaging beliefs, rationalizations, or behaviors that cut short your motivation to be successful. Then you will be ready to change your behavior to increase commitment.


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