For over two decades I have been a mental performance coach for some of the biggest names in sports, like Jake Arrieta, Kyler Murray, and Georges St-Pierre.
Having been a college baseball players, it was very natural for me to coach other baseball players in mental performance. I knew their mindset, their routines and the language they use when talking to themselves.
Now, after playing golf for several years and increasing my awareness of a golfer’s mindset, having worked with some of the top college golf programs in the nation and having caddied on the PGA Tour, I’m eager to coach golfers in the same mental performance system that has shaped my life and the success of so many of the athletes I work with.
With the hiring of a new VP of Golf Development in Trake Carpenter, a former college golfer and college golf coach at Marquette, Stanford, and Denver, I am eager to introduce to you what we are working on in enhancing our system of Mental Performance Coaching for Golfers.
So, what exactly is golf mental performance?
Mental performance is simply a skillset that can be taught, developed, and continuously improved just like the physical aspects of your game.
Mental performance training is strength and conditioning for the six inches between your ears that control the six feet below them. Having a mental performance training system is essential to playing your best when it means the most, one shot at a time. Mental performance training will give you a skillset to be successful both on and off the course.
So, how do you train your mindset for success?
The same way you condition your body for success!
Here are three of the best mental performance drills you can practice:
Mental Performance Drill #1 – Concentration Grids
When you’re standing at the tee, waiting for your turn, I know there is a lot going through your mind.
The college coach watching me.
The state champion in my group.
While certain factors must be taken into consideration before you pull your club, allowing your mind to wander and focus on things you can’t control is hurting your ability to perform your best when it matters the most.
Concentration grids train your focus so that you are able to become aware of when your mind starts to wander.
A wandering mind won’t help you on this shot.
Concentration grids give your brain the mental reps you need to come back to the present moment and focus on the shot you are about to hit.
Visit briancain.com/cgrids for an instructional video and FREE training app you can use to increase your skill of focus and awareness.
Mental Performance Drill #2 – Controlling What you Can Control
As a golfer, there are a lot of things that are out of your control:
The slow play in front of you.
Finding a divot in the middle of the fairway.
And yet, aren’t these the things we complain about sometimes?
Complaining about a gust of wind won’t help you recover. Complaining about a bad lie won’t help you hit the next shot.
What can you control?
Your body language.
Your commitment to the next shot.
This is a drill you can practice all day long. When you start to complain about something, related to golf or not, ask yourself … is this something I can control? If not, then turn back to something you can control and get over it as quickly as you can. This is the foundation of mental performance on the course.
Mental Performance Drill #3 – Bad Day? Practice Letting it Go.
Golf is the only sport that you can’t stop playing until you are done.
Sinking that putt in the 18th hole.
That’s when you can leave.
And yet, we see pitchers taken out in the middle of the 4th inning – not even halfway through the game.
We see soccer players and basketball players sub each other in and out all game long.
Football players are on the field only ½ the time because offense and defense take turns.
Not you. You could make bogeys all day long … you’re not going to be able to walk away.
So, you have to practice letting go.
I like to envision all my bogeys as bricks.
You’re not going to be able to physically drive the ball well while also having to hold onto a brick.
Same thing applies to your mental game. You’re not going to be able to hit the green if you’re still carrying the frustration of that bogey from the previous hole.
Do you find yourself complaining about something that already happened? Imagine that’s a brick, and practice setting the brick down because if you carry the bricks… your bag gets heavy and it’s hard to swing a club holding on to a brick… something I will do to prove a point during practice rounds I walk with the golfers I coach one on one.
The more bricks you envision dropping and letting go throughout the round, the easier it will get. Before you know it, you’ll be able to come back to neutral at the start of each shot and be in control of yourself for the round. Remember, you must be in control of yourself before you can control your performance on the course.
Golf requires a lot of self-awareness, self-control, and self-coaching.
These are not skills you are born with.
They are skills you CAN and will want to develop.
But, it takes practice and I want to help.