Is The Problem Mental or Physical ?
This is one of the first questions a struggling golfer will ask themselves when things begin to go wrong.
This article will tell you where to look for answers.
It is unusual, although possible that the problem is purely mental.
This would be true if you have an excellent golf swing and you hit the shots you want to in practice, but you rarely play your best golf when you need to?
(This is sometimes the case with tour professionals or other highly competent golfers who have just lost their way.)
If this is the case, you would certainly benefit from understanding more about how your mind works, so you can deliver your physical and technical skills on a consistent basis.
There will probably be other symptoms pointing towards a misunderstanding, rather than a physical issue.
You might find yourself feeling anxious or uneasy when you play, or fed up and frustrated afterwards.
Those feelings are telling you something.
If you think those emotions are coming from your golf, then we need to talk.
I’d be happy to help you understand why you are suffering, allowing you to get back to enjoying the game again.
If on the other hand, you don’t always hit the ball well on the range or the golf course, it’s likely that physical or technical areas of your swing could be improved.
At some point the issue will probably affect your state of mind because you will start thinking about the poor shots you are hitting.
You will try to work out why they keep happening.
If you’re thinking about it, it’s mental.
(I know there must be a few golfers who don’t play well but don’t think or worry about it. Golf just isn’t a problem.
They are very happy playing the game in their own way, for their own reasons.
If this is you, please just keep doing it!)
But for the rest of us, we want to play our best golf as often as possible, and we want to improve our scores and handicaps.
Here’s where I can help.
Diagnosing the problem is surprisingly simple.
If you know where to look.
That might not be the case if you go to a golf instructor who doesn’t understand how human psychology really works.
If they don’t, the solution you get offered will almost certainly be a technical one.
Not because the instructor doesn’t want to help, it’s just that they probably won’t understand the real cause of the issue.
They might well give you some great information about how to change your golf swing.
It’s just that you’ll struggle to make best use of it because you have plenty of thinking going on already.
If you’ve ever had a golf lesson which didn’t really work out the way you hoped, that might well be the reason why.
Likewise, if you decide that the problem is mental, you might go to a sports psychologist.
Unfortunately, sports psychologists who have a good understanding of the golf swing are pretty rare.
There might be an obvious technical issue affecting your swing which the psychologist doesn’t pick up on, because that isn’t his area of expertise.
So unless you are a Tour player who can have both your instructor and your psychologist talking to each other regularly, or preferably watching you at the same time,
you are constantly going to be left asking the same question.
Is it mental or physical?
So, where do you go from here?
My first piece of advice is straightforward, and would be the same whether you were working with me in person, or remotely.
(Either are very possible. Please get in touch for details.)
The priority is to find out how well you understand how your mind works.
Mainly because it’s really easy to find out what you do and what you don’t know.
You either understand or you don’t.
If you do, great!
You can go ahead and start improving the physical and technical side of your game.
If you don’t, at least you know where you stand.
You can stop wondering.
You can learn the basic principles of your psychology reasonably quickly, then you can go and work on your swing and putting stroke.
If you try to do things the other way around, you can end up like I did.
Enjoying a 20 year quest to find the perfect golf swing, playing nowhere near your best golf when you really want to.
With the technical and physical aspects of your golf swing, you are always dealing with shades of grey.
Your body changes over time, as does the feel of your swing.
There are lots of ways of hitting a golf ball successfully.
You only need to see how many different swing theories, models and systems are on offer on the internet and in golf magazines.
If you do decide to change your swing, you might go to one instructor who says do one thing, while another one tells you to do something else.
You can waste an awful lot of time chasing your tail.
On fixing or improving your golf swing, when the reason you are playing inconsistent golf could simply be down to the fact that you are getting in your own way mentally.
Like I said, I did this for 20 years.
If you don’t want to do the same thing, the answer is simple.
Understand how your psychology works first!
Get the misunderstanding out of the way. Then you know where you are!
So how do you discover how much you know about your psychology?
It’s a short series of questions which will tell you how much you understand about your thoughts and feelings.
If you get a high score, that’s good news!
You understand the relationship between your thoughts and feelings.
So the reasons for your inconsistent golf probably lie with some technical aspects of your swing.
You can go and get some golf lessons, either with myself or another competent golf instructor, safe in the knowledge that once you have made the changes you will be able to take your skills to the golf course and deliver them regularly.
If on the other hand you get a low score on the quiz, you would be much better to look to your mind first before you go messing about with your golf swing.
Because the mental comes before the physical.
You think before you move.
Your behaviour (golf swing) comes from how you feel, and your feelings come from thought.
Trying to fix the behaviour without understanding the thinking behind that behaviour is a recipe for more frustration.
When you understand how your mind works, you learn faster.
You have less thinking going on so you absorb information and process it more easily.
Having golf lessons without understanding how thought works can be a very hit or miss exercise.
Sometimes a lesson works, sometimes it doesn’t, depending on the level of thinking you were experiencing during the lesson.
When you understand how your mind works, any time and effort you put into improving your game is going to benefit you.
Which is why it makes sense to learn about your psychology first.
It also means that when you head out onto the course, you can deliver the improvements without getting in your own way.
Working on your golf swing first is getting the cart before the horse. It can lead to years of frustration, as I know from personal experience.
Learning about how human beings think and feel isn’t complicated or difficult.
It doesn’t take any work, effort or special skills and you can see and feel the results in hours, rather than years.
You will notice a difference in your golf, and other areas of your life too.