How the simplest training, consistently applied, can help you transform your inner state and overcome performance anxiety.
For many golfers pre-tournament nerves can start anywhere up to three weeks before a competition; they are the bane of a competitor’s life and wreak havoc with eating and sleeping patterns, family and other relationships, practice time and the all-important preparation for the competition.
What’s happening here? It’s simply that the mind has a life of its own and when left unchecked it will run rampant.
Our training as you know is to focus on the breathing, following the inhalation and exhalation of air, the purest, simplest and most fundamental of all our activities.
Any time we come away from our breathing we go into the mind and the realm of mechanical thinking, jumping onto the hamster-wheel of our internal dialogue which goes round and round incessantly.
Research tells us that 80% of our thinking is negative. As such, we are usually berating ourselves, telling ourselves why we can’t do something, how we’re going to fail or that we’ll make a fool of ourselves if we even try.
Your pre-tournament (and pre-shot) nerves begin and end with all these negative thoughts and images you have in your mind around failure or at the very least not doing your best. You may worry about letting yourself down as well as disappointing your family, your spouse, your coach and maybe even your sponsors and worst of all you run the risk of looking like an idiot if your game falls apart or you choke.
Chi-Performance GOLF training is for one thing only; to bring you back to the present moment, because when you are present your mind and body can relate and work together to help you produce the shot you want to make.
When you bring your attention to your breathing all the noise in your head quietens down and some space is created in the midst of the mental chatter, a space to be still, a pause to get centred, a gap for the zone to manifest as you settle over the ball.
The transformation that occurs when you breathe your golf game is literally mind-blowing. We know from research that the brain actually changes with the regular practice of Meditation as the analytical mind goes off-line or shuts down altogether, allowing the motor-system to take control of movement.
Here’s some feedback I received this week from a new student, which really demonstrates the power of breathing practice to turn your game around:
“It feels better when I put most of my focus on my breathing while playing. My body has a tendency to flip the wrists and forearms rather than rotate them. This has been a long term habit or pattern. When I feel the arms rotate versus flip my ball striking improves. A few times during the round I felt my body become totally relaxed and fluid from my breathing. It was very distinct but fleeting…when my breathing is slow and consistent my motion follows suit. When my breathing becomes rapid, so does my swing and I tend to hook my shots.” Howie K. - California
For the last seven years I’ve been researching and writing about how the authentic, traditional Eastern practice of breath-centred Meditation and the applications of the meditative-state (aka ‘the zone’) can be beneficial for enhancing golf performance, having developed the method itself since 2002.
I’ve now collated all the information into a book / training guide which will be released early September.
Breathe GOLF; Developing the Relationship Between Breathing, the Quiet Mind and Winning Golf Competitions is over 100 pages long and has more than 60 ‘Try this’ exercises to enhance every aspect of your game.
If you haven’t already done so, please sign up for my newsletter to follow the build-up to the book’s release and to get your copy. All subscribers will get a really special surprise bonus too as part of their purchase deal.
In the meantime here are some ‘deep practice’ drills to get you ready for the huge opportunity for change and improvement coming your way with what I hope will be the definitive guide to excellence and winning at golf.
* Do 15 minutes of breath-centred Meditation daily. Remember not to worry about getting it right, forcing or controlling your breath, analyzing your practice or looking for results – just do your training.
* Keep a Training Journal to record what you notice about your own mind i.e. the times your imagination gets the better of you with negative images of losing or messing up the shot. Again, don’t try to change anything just see it and bring yourself back to your breathing.
* Practice 5 minutes Visualization following your Meditation sessions and/or when doing something active like walking in nature or working-out in the gym. See yourself again and again breathing deeply, feeling relaxed yet energized and quietly confident over the ball, minus thoughts, worries and anxiety.
Enjoy the-build up to the release of Breathe GOLF by following me on social media as I share short extracts of the book and tips for your game.