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5 questions to ask yourself after each round

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Do you finish your round, pop the clubs in the trunk, have a drink in the clubhouse and then head home after you play? If so, you’re missing out on something very important that can make you a better player.

According to the work we have done with some of the world’s leading athletes, including professional golfers at all levels, setting aside 15 minutes to reflect on each practice session and round can significantly help your performance in the long-term. Each one of my clients keeps a performance journal to track personal information and insights. At the end of a practice session or round, the athlete asks him/herself a series of questions, which are based on their individual profiles.

I can tell you that the athletes I work with who are diligent about keeping a performance journal and reflect on each practice session and round, consistently perform better than those who do not. Reflecting on performance helps boost self-efficacy, or the belief in your abilities in various situations. The reflection process helps build a sense of commitment to the player’s development and that player takes the lessons/experiences from each round and is always moving one step forward.

Luke’s Secret Weapon

luke donald

For a period in 2012, Luke Donald was the No. 1 player in the world — even with a surgically repaired wrist and ranked 177th in driving distance.

How did he do it?

With a lot of talent, a belief in himself and with the help of a ball point pen.

Donald keeps a simple black binder loaded with a daily calendar that you can pick up at the office supplies store. The pages are loaded with personal knowledge and self-belief about Donald’s game. Donald calls it his performance diary. I call it an essential tool that has helped him leverage his experience and maximize his abilities.

Each evening Donald uses the journal in a number of ways. He may jot down goals for the next day, he might keep track of technical swing feels after a big practice session, something that was working for him on the course, he might keep his statistics or just write down general thoughts and observations from the round that may help later.

Writing has power

pen and paper

In terms of learning, player development and communication, writing has the potential to offer a powerful difference for a golfer. I have seen, as researchers have attested, that writing can help a golfer in a number of ways including:

  • Enhance their self-awareness
  • Build self-confidence
  • Sharpen overall mental skills
  • Increase coping abilities

How you can get started

I highly recommend you begin, like Luke Donald did, with a small book that becomes your designated “performance journal.” The book can be a calendar, or you can input your own time periods, and pages would be designated for your practice sessions and rounds.

Like Donald, your performance journal will be a collection of information about you. It could be small goals that you’d like to achieve in the coming months, technical ideas that are helping you play well or thoughts about your approach to the game. Here are few general questions you can begin with to begin the reflection process:

  1. How did I practice or play today? Why do I think I practiced or played that way?
  2. What did I learn from the practice or round? Did I notice anything during the practice that could help me improve? Where do I need to put my focus in the next practice session?
  3. Did I let go of poor shots/mistakes quickly and get right back to business? Or, did the mistakes stay with me? If so, for how long?
  4. What would I rank my confidence in the practice or round, from 1-10? Why?
  5. Did I enjoy myself during the practice session or round? Why or why not?

Over time, you’ll notice patterns in your game that lead to success, and those that hinder your performance. Since we remember very little of what happens day-to-day, your journal becomes your memory, and may become your strongest tool for improvement going forward.

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John Haime is the President of New Edge Performance. He's a Human Performance Coach who prepares performers to be the their best by helping them tap into the elusive 10 percent of their abilities that will get them to the top. This is something that anyone with a goal craves, and John Haime knows how to get performers there. John closes the gap for performers in sports and business by taking them from where they currently are to where they want to go.  The best in the world trust John. They choose him because he doesn’t just talk about the world of high performance – he has lived it and lives in it everyday. He is a former Tournament Professional Golfer with professional wins. He has a best-selling book, “You are a Contender,” which is widely read by world-class athletes, coaches and business performers.  He has worked around the globe for some of the world’s leading companies. Athlete clients include performers who regularly rank in the Top-50 in their respective sports. John has the rare ability to work as seamlessly in the world of professional sports as he does in the world of corporate performance. His primary ambition writing for GolfWRX is to help you become the golfer you'd like to be. See www.johnhaime.com for more. Email: john@newedgeperformance.org

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Tyler

    Aug 10, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    This is quality information, thanks John! I never considered keeping a journal like this, but it makes perfect sense. Please keep these mental game instruction articles coming.

    • John Haime

      Aug 10, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      Thanks for the feedback Tyler. Reflecting on performance is very underrated. The right amount of analysis and introspection can really make a difference.

      More articles coming soon!

  2. Case

    Aug 10, 2015 at 12:44 am

    1. Why do I play this stupid game….
    2. Why are these a-holes always on the golf course who don’t fix divots, ballmarks or rake bunkers and take for ever to play any hole and end up with a 5.5 hour round
    3. Why do I play this stupid game….
    4. The game has lost any sense of decency, manners or etiquette ever since the Eldrick Woods era the game has gone to the toilet it’s all about big money now, it’s noting to do with the gentlemanly aspects of the game ever since that clown ruined it for the ones who really cared about the game I wish he would take all the clowns with him off the golf courses
    5. Why are these fat azzes even playing? Because they can ride around in carts and drink beer all day and be belligerent, it’s the only game in the world where you get to drink and drive and act like idiots for 5 to 6 hours in a public space without somebody saying something about law and getting on their case

  3. Scott

    Aug 9, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Good article. Somewhere in the past I read a similar article titled “Measure Up When Playing Well” … a journal is very helpful especially when things go well and you get a confidence boost. I tend to experiment with my swing a bit too much and it re-focuses my practice and play to things that work well and help me play my best.

  4. Nathan

    Aug 9, 2015 at 1:14 am

    Yesterday.25 stableford points on the front 9, 14 on the back. After that effort I decided to do just this!

    • John Haime

      Aug 9, 2015 at 8:33 am

      thanks for the comment Nathan. If you record thoughts/ideas, and ask yourself key questions, you’ll find there are patterns in your performance – and will be very helpful for you. Great exercise for young golfers to get accustomed to doing.

  5. Cons

    Aug 8, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Yo Luke Donald, its not a diary… its a journal. Just ask Doug Funnie.

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What should your hips do in the golf swing?

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If you want to become more consistent, a better ball striker and hit longer golf shots then this is the video for you. This video will show you exactly what your hips pelvis should be doing during your backswing, downswing and through impact. Having great control of your pelvis and it’s movement will help you have greater control over your golf swing.

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Playing in your mind vs. playing out of your mind

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Comparing the recreational beginner to the elite player

As a player, I know there are rounds of golf where I feel like I worked extremely hard to achieve the results and there are also rounds that are effortless and just plain easy. Why do we go through these peaks and valleys in golf?

As an instructor and player, I want to explore a deeper understanding of what it means to be playing out of your mind vs. playing in your mind.

I want to address both beginners and elite players on their quest for better play. All beginners and elite players must understand that, as players, we are all experiencing ups and downs. The bottom line is that some handle them better than others.

Why is this a feeling golfers have: “playing out of your mind”?

Well, it is pure relaxation. It is fluid, seamless, continuous motion. No hang-ups. No hiccups.

The next big question, how do we achieve this regularly?

We get to this without forcing it, by believing in our makeup. It is locked in our subconscious. It is a controllable, uncontrollable. Subconsciously, your nervous system is in the green light. You are just doing. This is peak performance. This is the zone. This is playing autonomously, out of your mind.

I believe that over time, a golfer’s game is compiled in his/her built-up expectations of the player they truly believe they are. Expecting to make a putt vs. just so happening to make it feeds two different minds. When you place an expectation on an action tension is created. Tension creeps into our nervous system and our brains either respond or they don’t. This is called pressure. This is what I call playing in your mind. You are in your head, your thoughts are far too many and there is just a whole lot floating around up there.

The more players play/practice, the more they will expect out of themselves, and in result, create that pressure. (ie. Why progress is difficult to achieve the closer you get to shooting par or better). The best players are better at responding to that pressure. Their systems are auto-immune to pressure. (ie. Think of practice like medicine and think of a pre-shot routine like the Advil to help calm the spiking nerves.)

  • Playing in your mind = high tension golf… you might need an Advil.
  • Playing out of your mind = low tension golf… you are in a good headspace and are doing all the right things before your round even started.

The key to understanding here is that we can play in both minds and achieve success in either situation. It is all about managing yourself and your re-act game.

Subconscious playing is beyond enjoyable. It is more recreational in style. I believe beginners are playing more subconsciously, more recreationally. I believe elite players can learn from the beginner because they are achieving superior moments and sensations more subconsciously, more often. All players at all levels have off days. It is important to remember we all have this in common.

The goal is always to play your best. When I play my best, there are no preconceived thoughts of action. It’s simply action. Playing out of your mind is an unwritten script, unrehearsed, and unrepeatable on a day to day basis, you’re living it.

Say you have that one round, that out of your mind, crazy good day. The next few days, what do you do? Do you try to mimic everything you did to achieve that low number? As good players, we take these great days and try to piece it together into a script of playing. We know we can get it down to almost damn near perfect. The more a player rehearses the better they get. Edits are made…knowing that things are always shifting. Visualization is key.

No doubt, it’s a huge cycle. Players are in a continuous race to achieve results in numbers. Players looking to reach great success should generate a journal/log and compile a record and playback method and revisit it repeatedly.

There is no secret or magic…it takes mastering the minds to achieve the best results more often. Most important, as players, we must recognize that during our amazing rounds…

  1. We are relaxed
  2. We are having fun
  3. We are just doing

In this game, the deeper we go, the more we propose to be there. It will always bring us back to the basics. One complete full circle, back to the beginner in all of us. So, the next time an experienced player sees a beginner on the first tee…take a moment and appreciate that player!

Remember to enjoy the walk and believe that hard work always works!

Please reach out to me at dmfiscel1482@gmail.com to learn more about the zone and how to become accustomed to playing autonomously.

 

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