Friday, 12 June 2009

Insane Golf

A lot of golfers wonder why it is that they spend years and years playing the game, spend a fortune on the latest equipment, spend hours and hours on the driving range, have countless lessons with a swing coach and dedicate the rest of their time analysing and thinking about their game and yet, more often than not, find that they still get the same results they’d been getting for years - or may even get worse.

If you can recognise this in yourself, you may want to ask yourself whether you are doing anything differently to what you have done in the past to change your game. We are by nature creatures of habit. We essentially repeat patterns of behaviour without thinking. So a golfer will turn up at the driving range, get 100 balls and hit them one after another without putting any real thought into it or having any real purpose in mind. These people are often working on the erroneous principle that ‘practice makes perfect’. They feel that the mere effort of turning up to practice and hit balls is going to improve their play. However, because they tend to practise the same way every time, they are only reinforcing what they have already learned, including all their bad habits. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

It was Einstein who defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. If you want to improve, you must start doing things differently. Set yourself new challenges, put more effort into each shot, make your targets more defined, refine your pre-shot routine (if you haven’t got one yet, get one now), mentally rehearse how it would be to be the player you would like to be (we’ll discuss the power of mental rehearsal in more detail in a future blog), play with people you don't normally play with – just do something different. And if it works, keep doing it! Otherwise you are going to be stuck playing insane golf.

Andy Barton
The Sporting Mind - Mental Training for Sport