Golf Psychology Tips: How to Think Effectively on the Golf Course, National University Golf Academy

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Dr. Sarah Castillo, the Director of the Sports Psychology Program at National University, explains how to think effectively while on the golf course. To discuss this golf tip with other golfers and share your own leave a comment below. We look forward to your feedback.


Hi I’m Dr. Sarah Castillo and I’m the Director of the Sports Psychology Program at National University. I’d like to spend just a few seconds talking about the importance of effective thinking.

There’s been a lot said about how important it is to think positively and to speak positively to your self. The truth is it doesn’t really matter whether your talk positive or negative. Both can lead to great performances. The key is whether your thinking is effective. Effective thinking makes you want to continue, it makes you want to stay on the course even when things are getting hard, even under adverse conditions. Effective thinking is going to help you maintain control over your strategy. It’s going to help you consider some reasonable alternative and it’s going to help you to trust your game. It’s time for you to take a little bit and do some honest self assessment. Really, you might benefit from positive thoughts, or negative thoughts, but you need to be honest about it.

Consider what you think when you’re playing a great game, when everything’s going well on the course and then think about what happens when things aren’t going so well. When things are going well are you encouraging yourself to play that great golf all the way through the end of the round? Or, are you nervous? Do you make yourself nervous and take yourself out of the zone? And when things aren’t going so well, how are you responding? Are you trying to prepare yourself to sort of get yourself back on the horse and prepare for the next shot? Or, are you really beating yourself down and throwing in the towel for the day? If you don’t like your answers to those questions, it might be time to make a few adjustments.

Spend some time thinking about what really works for you. John McEnroe had horrible reactions to failure. He’s legendary for it, but it worked for him. Going back and looking at his tennis matches, he would have one of those reactions and it would lead him to focus more intensely and be more prepared for the next point. He was able to come right back from that sort of talk. But that doesn’t work for everybody. Consider treating yourself with a bit more compassion, the way you’d treat a friend. If your friend made a mistake on the course you would never say “Holy cow, that’s the worst shot I’ve ever seen!! Why do you bother playing?”. Instead, you probably say something a little bit nicer, something like, “Whew, thank goodness that’s out of the way. Now you can get back to playing your game.” If you wouldn’t treat your friend the way that you would treat yourself, how do you expect to get your best game?

The key is that you need to be your best coach, your best cheerleader and your most rational voice when you’re on the course. If you can’t do those things for yourself, there’s no way you’re going to be able to play your best game. Good luck!


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