Confidence and positive attitude
This is so important that I don't think it can be reinforced enough. Confidence is truly key to execution, be it an over the water throw or a 20' putt with OB right behind the basket. If you see yourself missing or have any sort of negative thought - it's very hard to overcome and be successful on that shot. So keeping a positive attitude is really key to executing virtually every kind of shot.
So put on your best evangelist preacher voice and say it with me brothers—“YOU GOT TO BELIEVE!!” Don't just think you're gonna make it - say it out loud. Reinforce it - back yourself up. As you approach your lie say it aloud - "I can make this". Positive reinforcement is equally or more powerful than negative reinforcement. Striving to include the positive in your game goes a loooooong way.
A word of caution. Avoid giving yourself "do" instructions. There's a big difference between saying "I can make this", and instructing yourself to "make this". One inspires confidence and ends right there. The other leads to further instructions which just muddle the mind and introduce the dreaded distraction (picture it in your mind -make this... keep the nose down...be firm, DOH!!) So stay away from the instructions and stick to pumping yourself up with the belief that you can succeed. The more you believe, the more you will succeed.
The consistency it takes to get and maintain a high rating is not so much about your physical ability, (as once you acquire a certain physical skill set - it doesn't ever really "go away") as it is your ability to manage distractions.
Distractions can take many forms, from passing traffic, to kids at a playground, to that guys cigarette smoke - there are as many potential distractions out there as you could possibly imagine. So the real trick to consistently posting good scores - is all about distraction management - eliminating or minimizing the effect of those things on your concentration during execution.
The best thing to do is to make everything as simple as possible. So let's start with the actual amount of time you spend throwing. If you play by the rules - you get 30 seconds to make each shot. If you average par 54 - that's 27 minutes of actual play time. Now if you pare that down to actual physical time throwing - it's probably more like 5 seconds a throw - which totals 4-1/2 minutes. This is the total, crucial amount of concentration time you need during a round of golf. Sounds simple right?
Stick with simple. Here's a reality you cannot avoid. You can only throw ONE SHOT AT A TIME! Not one hole, or one round, ONE SHOT. This is where your concentration needs to remain - on the ONE SHOT you are performing. Not the one you just messed up, not the one after this one, not that tough over water shot 3 holes from now, but THIS ONE RIGHT NOW.
Distractions- Don’t think about the score
Distraction management - (and I guess this mostly applies to tournament play) pay no attention to the scorecard. Don't keep track of your running score, don't keep track of your score in relation to another player’s score, don't continually tally the scores on the card when you're holding it. The scorecard is a notorious and common distraction. Allowing yourself to "just play" is a lot harder than it sounds. Sometimes I will carry the scorecard for an entire round (it can be a simple addition of cadence to your game) - but I seldom know how everyone stands on the card until the end. If you find yourself constantly checking the card, or comparing /keeping a running tally w/another player - CUT IT OUT! There's nothing wrong with generally knowing how you're doing (we all do that) - but try not to be pre-occupied with it - it's just one more distraction that is unneeded, and easily managed.
Last edited by timg; 01-12-2011 at 12:34 PM.