How to Stay in the Present Mind, Control Anger, Nerves & Emotions in Golf

To stay in the present moment means that you have no concern for the outcome of the shot you are playing. You are so completely focussed on the task at hand that your mind is completely occupied, your body relaxed and you can play the shot confidently without worry. In the present your mind does not wander from the task at hand and think about bad results of a shot or past poor performances.

One of the big problems with not being in the present moment is that the golfer may allow their conscious mind to go back in time and think about a past poor performance and negative events, which lowers their confidence and ability to hit the shot confidently. An example of this would be: “I have missed a short putt just like this one twice already today, I don’t want to miss this one too!”

Just as bad is allowing your mind to wander into the future and worry about playing badly, or the consequences if you hit a bad shot. An example of this would be: “If I miss this putt then I lose the hole and match!”

Staying in the present mind is to be so completely absorbed in the moment that there is no room for past or future thinking that interferes with performance. A fairly simple sounding thing to do but far from it in reality unless you are a Zen Master!

The problem is that we have a part of our brain that is attempting to protect us in a rather bizarre way by warning us of past poor performance in the hope we don’t repeat it. “Watch out! Don’t slice it in the woods here!” may be a well intentioned warning but it’s very unhelpful when we are trying to stay calm, confident and in the zone I’m sure you will agree!

It is not that we want our minds to stop warning us of potential problems but untimely warnings that actually spoil performance can be done without. After all you would not want your mind forgetting to warn you about stepping in front of a bus now would you? A bad shot can bring humiliation, disappointment and anger so it is little wonder that our minds want to warn us against doing anything that could have a negative outcome, especially if it may be humiliating. We fear humiliation worse than death so it’s a powerful emotion that your mind wants to avoid.

Golf by it’s very nature is one of those sports where there is a lot of down time between shots and ample opportunity to get thinking about possible problems. In a sport that is fast paced and constantly moving you will become very focussed on the game and have no time for your mind to wander to “What if!”.

All sports have some time at some point to allow thinking to wander but golf is also a game where the ball is always stationary when it is played and our thoughts can wander negatively virtually all the time. Sports like tennis allow thoughts to wander between points but while the games are underway where actual shots are hit the players are much more absorbed naturally in the present. They will still need to keep their mind focussed between points, games and sets but sports like golf or snooker, pool and some others are even more challenging.

The faster the pace of the game means less opportunity for your mind to wander out of the present time at the crucial moment, just as the ball (or other object such as a puck) is played.

Developing a deep focus ability in order to control your thinking and keep the mind focussed in on specifics like targeting is ultimately a learnable skill. The technique called “anchoring” from the field of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is a highly effective at triggering and controlling your emotional states by the Mental Game of Golf Now we have much more control.

The answer for most of us is to develop very solid pre-shot routines and back them up with NLP for Golf Techniques, daily visualisation of how you want to perform on every shot. Visualising yourself full of confidence and deeply focussed In The Zone every time you step onto a tee would be a great idea wouldn’t it? Can you imagine going into a confident state and being really focussed almost automatically just by walking onto the teeing ground?