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Mental Briefs For Better Golf

Transferring Your Driving Range Ability to the Golf Course.

by Nick Rosa, Ph.D

This article is a response to the following question:

I have a major problem getting myself from being too stiff while on the course (no problem on the driving range.) This causes me to not turn my shoulders and there "fore" reverse pivot and I'm trying to hit the ball rather than swing the club. Please help. I've tried just about everything.

There's bad news and there's good news. Fortunately, the good news far outweighs the bad.

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First, the bad news. Unfortunately, in the tee box you've been conditioned to experience a negative psychophysiology. You have a negative Pavlovian response, the kind referred to in the "Overcoming Anxiety During Competition" article. More specifically, when you step into the tee box your body gets triggered into getting stiff, causing you not to turn your shoulders, which negatively affects your swing mechanics. I suspect that you have some apprehension and that your confidence, expectation, breathing, grip and posture are negatively impacted as well.

Now, the good news. Fortunately, on the driving range you've been conditioned to experience a positive psychophysiology. That is, on the driving range your body gets triggered into being loose, you have confidence in your swing and a positive expectation, and your breathing, grip and posture being positively affected. You experience, what I call, a peak performance state frequently on the practice range. Voila! All we need to do is transfer the peak performance state you already know how to experience when on the driving range to the tee box.

There are two exercises you can do to do to accomplish this. One would be to follow do the conditioning exercises described in the "Overcoming Anxiety During Competition" article. The other is to do the following:

(1) Go to the driving range and get a couple of buckets of balls and begin driving. Every time you're pleased with the feel of your swing and nail one down the middle with good distance, immediately take a deep breath and hold for a count of 5 to 7 and exhale slowly. Do this whenever you practice and you will be establishing a connection between this special breath and your peak performance state.

(2) At home, close your eyes, take a your special breath and for a handful of seconds, imagine seeing yourself in the tee box nailing each drive with great distance and accuracy. Repeat this a few times. Next do the same thing a few times except now imagine that you are in the tee box feeling the ground beneath you feet, the driver in your hand, etc.

(3) In the tee box, take your magic breath right after you tee up the ball and before you begin your take away. This will trigger your peak performance state and positively affect your swing.

(4) Finally, in the tee box (or on the fairway), whenever your swing feels right and you drive the ball well, immediately take a deep breath and hold for a count of 5 to 7 and exhale slowly. As in step (2), the bond between your special breath and peak performance state will be strengthened.

Follow steps (1) - (4) and you'll be driving as well from the tee box as you had on the driving range. My prediction, even better!

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