A sport psychologist's tips for surviving winter golf


A sport psychologist's tips for surviving winter golf

With golf courses closing and winter greens arriving, access and willingness to play and practice is often reduced. This leaves many golfers questioning what they can do and how to make good use of the winter months.

Therefore, we have put together 9 tips that, if followed, will prepare and motivate golfers, allowing them to start the new season in the best way possible.

Reflect on Past Seasons

The winter offers the perfect chance for golfers to analyse previous seasons and identify aspects of their game they have improved upon and what needs further work. Reflection is very important, as recent research has found that it is a key factor in helping players transition from junior national to senior international level.

Set Goals

Golfers can use the winter to work with their coach to set challenging but realistic goals for the new season. However, golfers need to ensure that these are performance goals, not outcome goals, as this avoids them setting targets they only have partial control of - this can cause a lack of motivation or feelings of anxiety.

Have you checked out our Sport Psychology for Golf guide page?

Prepare for the Season Ahead

Golfers should use the winter break to create training schedules for the coming season. Research suggests that golfers should use blocked practice (where the skill is practiced over and over again) when they are looking to learn something new, but random practice (where multiple skills are practiced in a random order) at all other times, as this better mimics a round of golf and benefits skill retention.

Build a Team Around You

Golfers not only need to focus on selecting a coach they believe will help them improve, but they also need to ensure that they are keeping their friends and family up to date with their golfing achievements.

Sport can be stressful, and having a team of people to turn to for support and advice can be pivotal in helping a golfer build resilience and learn from their mistakes.

Seek Feedback

The winter break offers a chance for golfers to gather feedback. Golfers need to remember that feedback isn’t a judgement of their personality or future abilities and should be open minded. They should be looking to have open discussions and seize any opportunities to learn from others.

Practice Visualisation

Whilst being unable to train as often during winter can be frustrating for golfers, it does give them time to practice visualisation (where golfers use all their senses to create a mental image of what they want to achieve). Research has shown that if the golfer visualises the shots they want to be able to play in the future, execution becomes much easier once they can practice again.

This is because visualising the shot produces muscle patterns that are almost identical to those produced when the shot is actually carried out.

Practice Pre-performance Routines

The best golfers have a pre-shot routine where they think about or visualise successful shots. Pre-shot routines should be implemented each time the golfer plays and tailored to their golfing style to promote feelings of confidence, stop the golfer from overthinking and allow them to block out other distractions on the course.

Implement Healthy Routines

The golfers who are consistently able to compete to a high level and win majors are not just those who play the best shots on the course, but also those who implement healthy routines off the course.

A healthy routine involves getting the required sleep each night (7-9 hours is recommended for adults, 8-10 for adolescents), as a poor night’s sleep can reduce creativity, mood and concentration. The golfer also needs to get into the habit of eating a breakfast that is high in fibre, as this not only gives them the energy they need to perform, but also improves their memory and attention.

Relax

It is important that golfers use the winter break as an opportunity to relax so that they return feeling refreshed and motivated. Golfers could relax by socialising with friends, watching films, playing other sports, etc.

FINAL THOUGHT

Instead of seeing the winter break as a source of frustration, golfers should see it as an opportunity to relax and prepare to make a positive start to the new season.

This can be achieved through the creation of strong support networks, by practicing pre-shot routines, and by seeking feedback.

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