Hank Aaron wasn’t at all impulsive about what he did. Before every game, he studied the pitcher, watching his moves closely. Then he played the pitches like a video over and over in his head, learning as much about how the pitcher moved and reacted as he could. Hours of mental preparation went into each successful baseball game, and the end result was induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Like Aaron, the most successful athletes train the mind as well as the body. Success at any sport is 50% physical preparation and 50% mental. The mental game of golf is just as important as all the training and fancy gear you’ll ever pay for.
Golf especially seems to be a game that requires exacting mental practice. Perhaps it’s the fact that the game isn’t played with buzzers and timers, rehearsed moves and plays automatically flowing from hours of repetitive physical practice. Perhaps it’s because you have time to laugh with your buddies and exchange insulting banter. Perhaps it’s because golf is such an individual sport. You can’t rely on a team to help you out when things get tough. It’s all you, all the time. No matter how many hours you spend improving your swing, buying custom clubs, or getting tips from pros, you can get stuck in a golfing rut until you learn to focus as much on what’s going on in your head as your stance.
Is the mental effort easy? Of course not. And that’s probably why so many naturally talented athletes skip it. In fact, many athletes have never even considered the benefits of spending hours at a time working it all out in their heads. While the idea of mental preparation for sports playing has become more popular, it’s still waiting to become a wildfire concept. When it does, expect sports facilities to begin incorporating quiet rooms for meditation and trainers who walk you through multiple mental exercises which will leave you just as tired and sweaty as any serious workout.
The mental game of golf is crucial to improving your score and playing well on a consistent basis. If you have spent enough money on physical trainers and the latest technology, maybe it’s time to seek out a person who can help you train your mind. After all, if half the game is mental, shouldn’t you be stretching the brain just as much as you strengthen your core or perfect your swing?