Golf Tips - Keep Your Inner Dialogue Positive

By Tom Ward

Many students of mine tend to be to hard on themselves on the golf course. Constantly berating yourself is a recipe for disaster.

The dialog that you hold with yourself is critical to your development as a player and as a person.

Self-talk can be encouraging or it can be detrimental, according to how you present it to yourself. Remember: Your mind doesn't have a sense of humor. If you program it to do something and the message is negative, it will respond accordingly.

This is why it's important to monitor your inner dialog; what you say to yourself after a poor shot can be self-destructive.

Even the best players in the world are guilty of this mistake, and if they don't make corrections immediately, the round or tournament is lost.

We've all beaten ourselves up after a bad day on the links, or when things don't go our way. If you watch a tournament on television, periodically you'll see a player bad-mouthing themselves. They might be saying things such as, "I'm the worst golfer in the world," or "Why can't I hit that simple putt? I stink." These statements or other expletives will bring the golfer down.

The key is to change how you talk to yourself while practicing or on the course. I've taught and worked with a number of sports psychologists over the years who gave me some good insight about how to break negative self-talk patterns.

First, you need to be aware of situations when negative thoughts can occur.

Here's a simple method to get you started on the right track: The next time you head out to play a round of golf, put a handful of pennies in your right pants pocket. Not too many to weigh you down, though.

Every time - and I mean every time - you become aware of negative images or internal dialog where you're speaking poorly to yourself, transfer one penny from your right pocket to your left pocket. By learning to monitor your thoughts, you're on the right path to correcting your inner demons.

When you're finished playing, count out the number of pennies that made the journey from one pants pocket to the other. Then write down the total as well ... try to remember what words you used, and what situations prompted them.

Then, start setting some new, clearer goals. In this case, the goal is to attempt to cut down on the number of negative self-talk speeches. Just like you have goals to shoot certain scores, you need to apply this same attitude with correcting this debilitating self-talk.

Once you have been able to calmly re-examine your round and your outbursts of negativity, imagine yourself reacting to those circumstances in a different way and replacing those negative statements with positive thoughts. Learn to laugh with yourself and say, "I can do this shot," and other such positive feedback to reinforce your self-worth.

With each round, make a conscious choice to reduce the negativity and try to remain positive - remember, it's only a game. With some diligent practice and commitment, you're on your way to erasing bad thoughts about your golf game.

Now doesn't that make more cents! *




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