The good news is… no. Of course, the more you practice any skill, the better you will get, but it’s possible to become mindful in a second, or as I prefer, the old-fashioned term, to get into the 'here and now' or ‘the moment’. And do you know what? Golfers are usually pretty good at being in the moment... with a little practice.
Here's an example of a simple procedure you can apply for every shot you play, whether driving, chipping or putting. It's about breaking the shot down into individual parts so you don't have to think about a thing that isn't relevant at each particular moment in time.
Let's imagine you're around 80 yards from the green. What needs to happen to get the ball into the hole?
- So first you need to select the club most appropriate to the shot - you're not playing the shot yet, only playing it through in your head.
- Next you need to line up the shot, obviously taking into account the conditions of the day - but remember, you're not playing the shot for real yet, you're just assessing up the situation.
- Then you take your position over the ball, all nicely lined up as you worked out in step 2. Some like to maintain a visual of where they want the ball to land, and as long as this helps you stay in the moment without it being a distraction, then this is fine.
- Now you're ready to swing the club. You don't have to think about the choice of club because that's already done in Step 1. You don't have to think about the direction you're aiming, as you've already done that and in the right line, a la Step 2.
- Now just swing :0)
The key to being in the moment (or mindful if you prefer) is to focus only on the current task in hand. By not getting ahead of yourself, or by not worrying if you've got the right club once you've made the decision, keeps things simple.
From a physical point of view, it also reduces inappropriate muscular activity and therefore minimizes the chances of miss-hitting. If you've got unnecessary thoughts going through your head, you'll have corresponding muscular responses. For instance, if you're worried you're going to fluff the shot, your neck and shoulders will tighten and your shot WILL suffer.
When you're over the ball, you don't need to be distracted by thoughts of what might happen next - this isn't being in the moment and WILL have a negative impact on your shot.
By taking your time and focusing ONLY on what you're doing at that moment, can bring about a stillness, reducing the traffic firing up and down your spinal cord that will only interfere in your thoughts and movement.
Go on, give it a go and see if this simple technique makes a difference for you.
Post by Roy Palmer, our Alexander Technique Teacher and author of Golf Sense.