Golf Mind Play: When Over-thinking Becomes a Hazard

What makes golf appear so easy when it really is quite challenging?

There are few games where you actually hit a stationary ball. Beginners often assume that golf must be an easy game because a carefully contrived formula is used when teeing off, using irons, chipping or putting, as opposed to reacting to a ball that is coming in your direction. Unfortunately, in the time you have to stand over the ball your brain gets in the way. When you’re engaged in a tennis game for example, as you run to hit that forehand top spin, you don’t think about where to exactly place your hands and how you’re going to exactly position your feet each time the ball is coming at you.

It happens at such a rapid pace – you don’t have time to think an awful lot about it during play. After learning how to swing the racquet to hit the ball effectively, the movements you carry out during the tennis game become instinctive, natural reactions. Golf is different in that you are given an opportunity to take time before each shot to narrow your focus and to think about what you’re actually going to do. Although time to think may seem to make the game more elementary, it actually creates an opening for a series of diversions that contribute to the complexity of the game.

As you are standing over the ball, the slightest distraction, whether it is a sound, or a thought in your head, it has the potential to seriously affect the outcome of your shot. In turn, one bad shot can then affect how you perform for the remainder of the game, simply because it has the ability to alter your state of mind.
What are the thoughts in your head?

Thoughts of your grip position and over-thinking your stance are diversions that take you away from the task at hand. Although having a pre-shot routine during practice is instrumental in the execution of your golf swing, over-thinking the mechanical processes during the actual game is detrimental to the flow of the action. It is this uninterrupted flowing movement and a relaxed mental state that is essential to achieving consistent, positive results on the golf course. So the question is – how can you eliminate distractions such as nagging thoughts or other negative influences to improve your game? There are several approaches to taking charge of your own mind game, but the first and most important is learning to accept what you can and cannot control.


1. Avoid over-thinking your shots, clear the mind of all the technicalities and concentrate on achieving a relaxed mental state each time you address the ball.

2. Don’t let the discouragement of one bad shot carry through to the rest of your game. Think only of your present shot, not what lies ahead, or what has already occurred.

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