Many sports psychologists rank golf as one of – if not the most – mentally demanding sports of all as it requires high levels of cognitive functioning.
No matter your level of experience, golf requires prolonged periods of acute concentration, mood control, positive self-talk, and visualisation amongst others and is arguably more mentally than physically exhausting.
Having said that, anything that has the ability to improve these cognitive skills will have a positive effect on your game and meditation ticks all these boxes.
Meditation for Improved Concentration
Having the ability to block out negative thoughts and focus on the task at hand is absolutely imperative when it comes to being a successful golfer, as lingering on thoughts of the last time you hit your tee shot straight into the water will only have a negative impact on your game.
Fortunately, almost every type of meditation has been shown to improve task related attentional focus and prolonged attention, both of which are crucial on the green.
Meditation for Managing Stress and Anxiety
It’s almost impossible to completely remove the stress and anxiety felt ahead of a golf tournament, but you can train your body to handle these feelings better from a psychological perspective.
Meditation reduces anxiety levels and it can also increase your body’s ability to recover from a stressful event on a physiological level as it’s been proven to reduce cortisol levels in the blood, therefore decreasing the risk of stress-induced diseases.
Meditation for a Positive Mood
Just like a loss at your favourite betting sites, negative feelings of anger, self-doubt, sadness, and frustration commonly accompany a few poor shots, but these feelings will generally affect the rest of your game long after these shots have passed.
Fortunately, meditation has been proven to improve your overall mood and has been shown to specifically reduce feelings of anger, self-doubt, sadness, fatigue, depression, and negative thinking and increase feelings of wellbeing and positive thinking – all of which will carry over into your golf game.
Meditation for a Decrease in Self-Criticism
Whether you choose to believe it not, mind over matter is a reality and negative thinking and a lack of confidence in your game will affect your performance. If you tell yourself you won’t make the shot, you likely won’t make it.
It’s not easy to turn off the self-critic which always seems to be ‘on’ in the back of your mind, but meditation – specifically a type called loving kindness meditation – has been shown to increase self-compassion and reduce self-criticism.
Meditation and Mindfulness
All golfers have heard the advice of focusing on one shot at a time, but in reality it’s one of the most important lessons every golfer should learn. The shot you’re taking right now is the most important of all – not the one that just passed or the one coming up next.
This is where mindfulness meditation comes in handy as it trains your mind to be in the present and experience the current moment to its fullest.
Remember: Deep breaths + a calm mind = better golf!