Written By Joe Saia

Transition Golf Jason Day mental game
Jason Day standing behind the golf ball & visualizing his next shot. Day won the PGA Championship in 2015 at Whistling Straits.

Most of the best players in the world have extremely strong mental games. They are able to stay in control of their nerves and focus on their game during high pressure situations, without letting their surroundings interfere. One of the reasons they are able to have such strong mental games is because they have a routine and they focus very hard on it during competitive rounds.

I get a lot of questions about the mental game from amateurs. They are not sure what they should be thinking about before hitting a shot or during a round of golf. Some believe they shouldn’t be thinking about anything at all. But the best players in the world are doing a lot of thinking during competitive rounds. The difference is that the best players are thinking about their routine and not outside thoughts.

Mental Game Mistakes

Before we can talk about how to have a strong mental game let’s talk about some common mental game mistakes. A lot of amateurs make the mistake of letting bad thoughts into their head before or during a round of golf and before their next shot. That’s why a lot of amateurs believe that the best solution is to have no thoughts at all before or during a round. They start having thoughts that distract them from their routine or cause them to lose control of their nerves. Every player has that one thought or scenario that causes them to lose control of their nerves and completely throws them off of their game. The difference is that the best players know how to block out those thoughts by focusing on their routine. The two tips in this post are going to allow you to switch off the bad thoughts when it matters.

Use A Conscious Cue

One of my favorite tips for a players routine comes from Jim Mclean in his The Eight Step Swing book. He mentions that Dr. Richard Coop would suggest to players that they should be using a conscious cue to begin their pre-shot routine. This conscious cue tells the player to start focusing on their routine and to stop focusing on any outside thoughts. It can be done by doing something like tugging on your shirt, tugging on your glove, or readjusting your hat. Any conscious physical action that lets you know to begin focusing on your routine. This advice is so good because it allows a player to only focus on golf when it’s absolutely necessary. It would be exhausting for a player to be thinking about their golf game for 5 hours straight while trying to block out any other thoughts. A conscious cue allows you to have fun on the golf course and interact with playing partners, then be able to easily switch your focus to your routine when it matters.

Focus On Your Routine

The best players in the world are able to have strong mental games in high pressure situations because they focus on their routine. By becoming obsessed with their routine in those moments they are able to block out any outside thinking that could potentially cause them to lose control of their nerves and concentration. My advice to anyone who is confused about how to have a stronger mental game or how to think on the golf course is to concentrate on your pre-shot routine and use a conscious cue to start that routine. This will allow you to block out those thoughts that cause you to lose control of your nerves or concentration before you hit your next shot.

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