3 Keys for Playing Your Best
“Ask yourself how many shots you would have saved if you always developed a strategy before you hit, always played within your capabilities, never lost your temper, and never got down on yourself.” — Jack Nicklaus
No matter how sophisticated their equipment or their knowledge about the swing, if golfers do not know how to work with their minds on the course, they encounter the common mental obstacles that keep them from realizing their potential. Overcoming such obstacles is the key to breaking through to lower scores. To do so, we need to free ourselves from fear and doubt, and activate confidence.
In ZEN GOLF: Mastering the Mental Game, I teach that the way to maximize confidence is to use my 3 keys, presented as the PAR System™: Preparation, Action, and Response to results.
The essential factors in Preparation are clarity, commitment, and composure. Clarity is having a vivid image of the shot you intend, both the target and the path the ball will take to get there. Commitment is freedom from second-guessing, doubt or hesitation. Composure is being calm and focused, poised and at ease. These are what you need to be properly prepared to play a shot. When you bring these factors to your game, they will add up to the confidence every golfer needs.
The ideal state of mind for Action is confident, focused, and in the flow, with body and mind synchronized in the present moment. This allows you to execute a shot free from the interference of mental chatter or paralysis from analysis. The ideal swing is an athletic response to your target, fearlessly trusting your ability. The hallmarks of a free swing are rhythm, balance and flow.
The best Responses to results are those that reinforce your successes and help you learn from mistakes without getting down on yourself. I encourage golfers to develop a “post-shot routine.” Reinforce really good shots with positive feelings and self-encouragement. Imprint the whole shot in your memory for recollection in future situations.
Be more accepting of so-so shots. Say, “That was close (to the swing I wanted to make).” Focus on all the positive aspects you can.
If it’s a really poor shot, clear the negative emotional energy with a deep breath. Refrain from negative self-talk. A shot that is way off target is most likely caused by lack of positive intention and commitment, or poor set-up and aim. Look for those causes and determine to prepare better for the next shot.
When you use the 3 keys of the PAR System™, you will make your mind an ally instead of an enemy. You will be better at staying calm, focused, and confident, and that will help you have less frustration, more consistency, and lower scores.
© 2016 Dr. Joe Parent