It's very easy for golfers to dwell on the past and carry it into the present, especially if past rounds did not go as planned.

When golfers dwell on past performances, they tend to feel less confident. They also worry that the same mistakes will repeat themselves.

When you are focused on the past, your ability to focus in the moment becomes split between what you are doing now and what just happened.

When you don't have 100% focus in the present moment, you hurt you ability to perform at your peak.

And for many golfers, they tend to think that the past will repeat itself, which I call an over generalization...

If a golfer leaves a five-foot putt inches short of the cup, will that golfer forever miss every short-range putt?

These over generalizations in your thinking will keep you stuck in a rut.

How do you focus in the moment?

First, you need to expose these thoughts for what they truly are... falsehoods. The past has little impact over your present performance.

Secondly, you must realize every round and every hole is a new challenge. You can learn from the past, but this current round is the only one that matters.

Lastly, you need to develop the mental skill needed to let go of the past and focus your attention and energies in the present moment.

Recent Masters winner, Sergio Garcia, was able to overcome bogeys in the middle of his round, make birdies coming in, and eventually win in the playoffs.

Garcia struggled on a few holes: driving his ball behind a tree left of the 11th fairway and having an unplayable lie on hole 13.

GARCIA: "In the past I would have told my caddy, 'Why doesn't it go through the trees?'"

Now, Garcia has a more positive mindset when dealing with bad shot or unlucky bounces that are out of his control.

GARCIA: "I was like, 'Well, that's what's supposed to happen. Let it happen, make a five here and we'll have a helluva finish.'"

"Definitely this was a demonstration of my character and my mentality, how positive I stayed when things weren't going that well."

If your head is stuck dwelling in the past, you are hurting your ability to be successful on the course.

GARCIA: "It's been a long wait, but it's that much sweeter because of that wait."

Try This for Focusing in the Present

1. Focus on the bull’s eye: The bull’s eye is your current shot or hole, not the last one. Define what's the most important performance cues for each shot. What's really important to focus on?

2. Stop judging and assessing your past performance or mistakes. Quickly recognize you are thinking about the past, and refocus on the current shot or hole.

By PGTAA member Dr. Patrick Cohn
Peak Performance Sports, LLC
Mental Training for a Competitive Edge
888-742-7225 | 407-909-1700 (local)
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It’s not enough to train hard, practice regularly and master technique...

Success in sport requires mental mastery.

Athletes spend a vast amount of time and energy looking for ways to improve their performance but they neglect the mental skills that impact performance the most.

When these athletes face the pressure of competition, they tend to melt down and never reach their full potential.

Golf is a sport greatly influenced by mental factors as 30 year-old Swiss professional golfer Fabienne In-Albon knows all too well. In-Albon started her golf career when she was ten and, by the age of 15, In-Albon knew that she wanted to be a professional golfer.

In-Albon attended the Swiss Olympic Sports School in her teen years and experienced a lot of success including eight Swiss Champion titles.

After high school, In-Albon received a full scholarship where she struggled to improve her game and left school after a year. When In-Albon returned to Switzerland, back injuries halted her play for two years.

In-Albon slowly started getting back into the game again and turned Pro in 2012. In 2013, In-Albon won her first tournament as a Professional and eventually received her full card for the Ladies European Tour. In 2016, In-Albon realized a lifelong dream of competing in the Olympics.

Despite her accomplishments, In-Albon still felt tremendous nerves at the Rio Olympic Games.

IN-ALBON: "At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio when I walked to the first tee on the first day of competition, I was very nervous, I felt sick, and I wasn’t quite sure how I would be able to hit this first tee shot as my entire body was shaking from all the nerves. I was [finally] standing there, just about to tee off, and the emotions that went through my body in that moment were overwhelming. I had to find a way of calming myself down and making sure that I could hit a good first tee shot."

Fortunately, In-Albon was prepared for this moment. You see, In-Albon not only practiced swinging her clubs, she mentally prepared for big moments by training to calm herself. In-Albon used breathing techniques to combat her nerves and improve her focus.

IN-ALBON: "Suddenly I was completely in the NOW and it was just myself, my ball and the fairway. No spectators, no cameras, no TV, nothing — just me, myself and I. I was totally in my zone and that’s how I hit one of the best shots in my life."

You have probably experienced the same kind of anxiety on the golf course. In fact, you know that your nerves are going to kick in at some point during a round. Trying not to think about being nervous is not an effective strategy.

Imagine how confident you would play if you knew you a technique that could counter nerves!

Mastering the mind requires training and that training will pay off when you need it most.

Tips For Preparing For The Big Moment:

The big moment implies there will be greater stress. It is critical to learn how to combat this stress so you stay in charge of your golf game.

Controlling your breathing is an effective way of relaxing your body and mind. Try adding deep breathing as part of your preshot routine. Focus on the feeling of air filling your lungs as you inhale, then emptying your lungs as you exhale. Take slow, controlled and focused breaths.

If you master your mind, the big moment will never be too big for you.

By PGTAA member Dr. Patrick Cohn
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