I know that golf can be a maddening game. But what can someone do to get rid of the frustration and gain more focus and emotional control? One of the first techniques I teach golfers is how to systematically relax.
Often times a player allows a bad shot to turn into a bad hole and then into a bad round. They lose focus thinking about their poor shots. Duck hooks, flubbed chips, putts coming up short, or that run far past the hole
all build frustration. As a player becomes more frustrated, they become more distracted.
You see there is an intricate relationship that exists between the mind and our bodies. In sports we think and our bodies react. Golf is a four-hour game, with action that takes only a few moments of that four-hour time span. That leaves us with a lot of time to get stressed out because we tend to allow ourselves to think about what ifs. Tension is a killer in all sports. When a player becomes nervous, upset, angry, or over-energized, their muscles become tight. Their body mechanics become uncoordinated. Theyre more likely to hook and make poor course management decisions. All serious golfers must learn how to relax. They must know how to calm down after a shot so that theyre prepared for the next one.
The easiest way to relax is to simply breathe. Please dont underestimate this powerful tool. Sure its something that we do thousands of times each day but its also one of the most effective ways to train your self to relax before or after a shot. Most people are not aware of the proper way to breathe for relaxation in golf. You must train yourself to breathe in through your nose, and exhale out through your mouth.
The technique is called Circle Breathing where you breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. As I mentioned, when many players hit a bad shot they allow themselves to become stressed and agitated. In essences they initiate a bi
ological response called the Fight or Flight Response. Blood pressure increases, a feeling of anxiety takes over, and their golf swing can go haywire.
However, circle breathing is a systematic way to relax and calm the mind and body. Circle breathing supplies oxygen to our muscles allowing us to gain muscular control and coordination. This can drastically improve your swing.
In addition, since a great swing relies on tempo and rhythm, it is also important to breathe with rhythm. When you first begin to practice circle breathing: count 1-2-3 as you breathe in; hold the breath for a count of 1-2-3; then slowly exhale with a count of 1-2-3-4-5. Very quickly youll find that youre more relaxed and focused.
You should make a commitment to circle breathing in the following situations:
3 minutes before every round
At least one deep breath before every shot
After a critical shot
While you walk to the next tee
If you can master circle breathing and add it to your arsenal, you will find that you have more focus, and are able to deal with the pressures of the round with a high level of confidence and a more positive attitude.
Learning to relax is a process. But I do believe that if you were to go out today and commit to circle breathing before every shot, youd immediately cut strokes from your game. Breathing helps us to relax and systematic relaxation training is the critical mental skill needed to play your best golf ever.