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The Mental Game: Go Beyond SMART Goals

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In my last article, I discussed how to kick-start your focus and create positive actions through the use of goal setting. Due to the positive reception and requests for more details about SMART goals, I would like to follow it up.

SMART is an acronym that stands for:

Specific — Measurable — Attainable — Realistic — Timely

It’s a fantastic guide for how to write powerful goals that we use daily with all of our students at The Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy.

Goals should be written in a specific manner, as opposed to general. For instance, it’s better to write the goal, “I want to practice my short game” rather than something general such as, “I want to improve.” Saying you want to “improve” gives no specific direction, but focusing on short game provides more detail.

The conscious and unconscious mind is like a missile. If the mind is launched with no parameters, then your thoughts can end up going in any direction, just like a stray missile. If you provide a specific target, however, the launch is all but assured to hit its target. Giving a specific direction for your mind and body to focus on is critical to setting goals.

The goal of “I want to practice my short game” can be taken further by adding a measurable component. Writing “I want to practice an hour a day,” provides even more detail and is a great way to measure your progress. At the end of every day, you can ask yourself, “Did I or did I not practice for an hour today?” You will be able to easily tell if you accomplished your task. On top of this, you can have a calendar at home and check off every day that you practice your short game for an hour, making it easier to track your progress.

Goals can be made both attainable and realistic with two simple questions: Can I? and Will I?

  • Can I accomplish this goal? If yes, the goal is attainable.
  • Will I accomplish this goal? If yes, the goal is realistic.

If you can answer: “Yes! I will practice my short game an hour a day.” Then your goal is both attainable and realistic.

The final and perhaps most important component to SMART goals is making sure the goal is timely and/or having a timeframe, also known as a deadline. To add a dimension of time to this goal, write something like: “I will practice my short game an hour a day each day this week.” You can also add another time frame and actually schedule a specific time to complete your goal, which I highly recommend! Simply saying from 5:30 p.m. t0 6:30 p.m. will provide a complete direction so your mind knows exactly what you need to do!

  • Specific: “I want to practice my short game.”
  • Measurable: “I want to practice my short game an hour a day.”
  • Attainable: “I can practice my short game an hour a day.”
  • Realistic: “I will practice my short game an hour a day.”
  • Timely: “I will practice my short game every day this week from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.”

While SMART guidelines are a great concept for structuring your goals, you can do even more.

Two tips I tell our juniors and pros are:

  1. Make sure your goals are written and stated positively.
  2. Make sure your goals are moderately difficult.

Writing a goal like, “I don’t want to get angry during today’s round” is not a positive goal. It keeps the mind focused on what to avoid. When the mind is focused on what to avoid, it makes that idea more likely to happen. Saying or thinking, “Don’t get angry” tells the brain, “get angry, get angry, get angry.” Therefore, the goal must have a different focus, such as: “stay focused” or “keep calm.” This simple shift in language is very powerful for your goals, mindset and success.

Writing a goal, which is easily attainable, does not motivate a golfer. A scratch golfer may write a SMART goal like, “I will shoot 80 or better today.” But, it likely doesn’t make that golfer excited and passionate. As we discussed in one of my previous articles, “Goals are the fuel of greatness,” goals should not only keep you focused, they should also drive you. Therefore, golfers will benefit by making goals that are attainable and realistic and also challenging.

Consistently writing SMART, positive, challenging goals is one of the most sure ways to continue to progress in golf. Get into the habit of doing this weekly, and you will be on your way to personal greatness.

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Dan Vosgerichian Ph.D. is owner of Elite Performance Solutions. Dr. Dan earned his doctorate in Sport Psychology from Florida State University and has more than 10 years of experience working with golfers to maximize their mental game. His clients have included golfers from The PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Web.com Tour, PGA Latin America, as well as some of the top junior and collegiate players in the country. Dr. Dan has experience training elite golfers on every aspect of the game. He served as The Director of Mental Training at Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, as well as a Mental Game Coach for Nike Golf Schools. He’s also worked as an instructor at The PGA Tour Golf Academy and assistant golf coach at Springfield College. Dan's worked as a professional caddie at TPC Sawgrass, Home of The Players Championship, as well as an assistant to Florida State University's PGA Professional Golf Management Program.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Mental Game: Go Beyond SMART Goals - GolfWRX | SmartphonesSmartphones

  2. Bill Schmedes

    Jul 4, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Another great article by Dr. Dan!

  3. Pingback: The Mental Game: Go Beyond SMART Goals | Spacetimeandi.com

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TXG: Should you carry TWO DRIVERS? // Distance, Accuracy, Draw & Fade Setups

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Some of the best players in the world have been testing a two-driver setup for their bags. Does it make sense to play two drivers if they are set up for two different shot shapes? We test one driver setup for maximum distance and draw flight and another setup for accuracy and fade flight. See whether this could be an advantage for your game—and help you get off the tee better at your course!

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Fixing the shanks: How to stop shanking the golf ball

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May you never be concerned about fixing the shanks! But if you’re begging the golf gods for guidance how to stop shanking the golf ball? Ready to offer up your first-born child for the wisdom how to stop shanking irons? Frantically asking Google how to never shank a golf ball again?

Fear not. We’ll get to drills to stop shanking irons shortly that are guaranteed to ingrain the proper feel and anti-shank action, but first, a brief discussion of what exactly a shank is (other than will-to-live crushing).

More often than not, a shank occurs when a player’s weight gets too far onto the toes, causing a lean forward. Instead of the center of the clubface striking the ball—as you intended at address—the hosel makes contact with your Titleist, and—cover your ears and guard your soul—a shank occurs.

How to stop shanking the golf ball

If you’ve ever experienced the dreaded hosel rocket departing your club at a 90-degree angle, you know how quickly confidence can evaporate and terror can set in.

Fortunately, the shanks are curable and largely preventable ailment. While there are drills to fix your fault you once the malady has taken hold, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

How to stop shanking the golf ball

If you’re trying to understand how to stop shanking the golf ball, you need to understand where the ball makes contact with the club during a shank.

Fixing the shanks

To avoid shanking the golf ball, it’s important to lock in on some keys…

  • Have a proper setup and posture…Athletic posture, arms hang down, neither too bent over nor too upright, weight on the balls of the feet.
  • Keep your grip light and arms tension free…If 10 is a death grip of golf club and 1 is the club falling out of your hand, aim for a grip in the 4-6 range. Make sure your forearms aren’t clenched.
  • Maintain proper balance throughout the swing…50/50 weight to start (front foot/back foot). 60/40 at the top of the backswing. 90/10 at impact.
  • Avoid an excessively out-to-in or in-to-out swing path…Take the club straight back to start, rather than excessively inside (closer to the body) or outside (further away from the body).

The best drill to stop shanking the golf ball

Set up properly (as discussed above), flex your toes upward as you begin your swing and keep your chest high (maintain your spine angle) throughout the swing.

Other than those focal points, keep your brain free of any additional chatter, which only exacerbates shankitis.

(For more advice, be sure to check out what our friends at Me and My Golf have to say below)

Now you know how to stop shanking the golf ball and have the tools to never shank the golf ball again.

Praise the golf gods!

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Cameron Smith’s 3-month Covid-19 training block

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Whilst Covid-19 has presented countless grave health and economic challenges to the world’s population, it has also provided opportunity for many people to focus their attention on projects that they normally wouldn’t have time for.

Turns out PGA Tour players are no different, and in the case of Cameron Smith, we used the enforced break from competitive golf to undertake a very rare, uninterrupted 3 month block of strength training.

Cam plays 25-30 events a year spread across 4 continents and this presents a number of challenges to overcome from a training and programming perspective:

– Varying facilities

– Travel fatigue and jet lag

– Concerns around muscle soreness affecting ability to perform on course

– Physical and mental cost of competing

When combined, these challenges can often render even the most carefully planned training programs redundant. So whilst many golf fans were coming to terms with a prolonged absence of PGA Tour events, I was getting stuck into designing programs that would hopefully elicit the following outcomes for Cam:

– More muscle mass

– More strength

– More power

In a normal season, I’m hesitant to prescribe programs that focus on muscle gain, because the nature of the training volume tends to tighten Cam up (reduce his range of motion), reduce his club-head speed and elicit a lot of muscle soreness…..not an ideal combination for short term performance! But I knew in this case, we could get stuck into some higher volume work because we would have plenty of time to recover from any lost mobility, reduced speed and increased soreness before tournaments started again.

 

Mid March – Program 1 – General Hypertrophy Focus

We decided with the global virus outlook looking dire and the PGA Tour promising to deliver a 30 day notice before resumption of play, we should focus on hypertrophy (increasing muscle size) until the 30 day notice period was delivered. At that point we would switch to a more familiar power based program in preparation for tournaments starting up again.

Program Breakdown:

– 4 weeks

– 3 sessions per week

– 1 x lower focus (legs, glutes, core)

– 1 x push focus (chest, shoulders, triceps, core)

– 1 x pull focus (back, biceps, core)

– Gradually increasing volume over 4 weeks (more reps and sets to failure)

Training Variables:

Sets: 3 to 4

Reps: 8 to 12

Tempo: 2-0-2 (2 seconds up, no pause, 2 seconds down)

Weight: around 70% of maximum

Rest: 60 seconds, but this can vary when pairing exercises together in supersets or mini circuits

 

Example Workout – Lower Body Focus (legs, glutes, core):

 

Example Exercises:

 

Mid April – Program 2 – Lower Body Hypertrophy Focus

As Cam was about to finish up his first hypertrophy program, there was a fairly clear indication that there would be no play until mid June at the earliest. Knowing that we had 2 more months of training, we decided to continue with another hypertrophy block. This time increasing the focus on the lower body by breaking down the leg work into 2 seperate sessions and ramping up the training volume.

Program Breakdown:

– 4 weeks

– 4 sessions per week

– 2 x lower body focus (1 x quad focused workout and 1 x hamstring / glute focused workout)

– 1 x push focus (chest, shoulders, triceps, core)

– 1 x pull focus (back, biceps, core)

– Gradually increasing volume over 4 weeks (more reps and sets)

Training Variables:

Sets: 3 to 4

Reps: 8 to 12

Tempo: 2-0-2 (2 seconds up, no pause, 2 seconds down)

Weight: around 70% of maximum

Rest: 60 seconds, but this can vary when pairing exercises together in supersets or mini circuits

 

Example Workout – Pull Focus (back, biceps, core):

 

Example Exercises:

Mid May – Program 3 – Power Focus

Once we received confirmation that play would be resuming 11th June at Colonial, we made the call to switch to a power focused program. Moving back to 3 days per week, lowering the volume and increasing the intensity (more weight and more speed in the main lifts).

The idea is to get the body used to moving fast again, reduce muscle soreness to allow better quality golf practice, and supplement the with more mobility work to re-gain any lost range of motion.

We also added some extra grip work because Cam discovered that with the muscle and strength gain, plus lifting increased weight, his grip was failing on key lifts…..not such a bad problem to have!

Program Breakdown:

– 4 weeks

– 3 sessions per week

– 1 x lower body focus (legs, glutes, core, grip)

– 1 x upper body focus (chest, back, biceps, triceps, core, grip)

– 1 x combined focus (legs, glutes, shoulders, core, grip)

– Volume remains constant (same sets and reps), aiming to increase intensity (either weight or speed) over the 4 weeks.

Training Variables:

Sets: 4 to 5

Reps: 3-5 for main exercises, 8-12 for accessory exercises.

Tempo: X-0-1 for main exercises (as fast as possible in up or effort phase, no pause, 1 second down). 2-0-2 for accessory exercises.

Weight: around 85% of maximum for main exercises, around 70% for accessory exercises.

Rest: 90 seconds, but this can vary when pairing exercises together in supersets or mini circuits

 

Example Workout – Combined (legs, glutes, core, shoulders, grip):

 

Example Exercises:

 

If you are interested in receiving some professional guidance for your training, then check out the services on offer from Nick at Golf Fit Pro

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