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Getting into the zone

Intro

Over the summer I’ve found that my golf has gotten a little more consistent. I’ve had the best round of my life shooting a 9 hole score of 25 stableford points, substantially dropping my newly received handicap, a change which will most certainly not last!

But that got me thinking, have you ever had one of those rounds where everything falls into place? Your drives are long and straight, approach play is dialed in and putts are being sunk from all over the green. You feel in complete control of your entire game and there are no distractions whatsoever, no hesitation and you have full confidence in your ability…

When this happens, you’re in “The Zone”.

But what is the zone and how can you ensure you find your zone every time you play?

What is the Zone?

The zone is an ideal state of focus which helps athletes perform to their full potential. By restricting external distractions your mind only processes the most important information helping you reach your goal. 

For golf, the zone would be a state in which you have minimal swing thoughts and trust your ability, you focus on important factors, such as course conditions whilst switching off to the outside world beyond the course. Requiring total commitment and effort, the zone is often difficult to find for many amateur athletes due to natural doubts and over-thinking, particularly when facing tricky shots.

Reaching the Zone

Practice, practice, practice. One way to ensure you’re round ready is to spend time at the range, honing your swing and shots. In doing this you can work on specific swing thoughts that work for you, reducing the number you’ll be faced with on the course. 

Similarly, by tailoring your practice to replicate a round, you can play the shots you’re likely to play on the course, in the same order. This will help increase your consistency as you only have one chance to make a specific shot, just like in a competition.

Turn off distractions. When you turn up to perform or practice be sure to free yourself from the distractions of everyday life. Switch off your phone and focus fully on the round at hand and the shots you’re likely to face.

Once underway don’t think too far ahead, the next shot is the most important and your game is the priority. Chat on your way to your ball, but once you reach your ball you’re back in the zone, fully focussed on the shot at hand.

Ready yourself. Across my previous blogs I’ve discussed a wide range of techniques that can help you ready yourself for your round, and when getting into the zone none are more important, in my opinion, than a pre shot routine.

By having a standardised pre-shot routine you can mentally and physically prepare yourself for the shot at hand. This routine will align your body and mind allowing you to be ready just be thinking about the shot, and knowing you’ve done it before will fill you with confidence.

Closing thoughts

The zone is quite simply the optimal state to perform in, but as aforementioned it can often be elusive for long periods of time until something clicks. Despite this, there are numerous things you can do to give yourself the best chance of having the round of your life!

Practice these methods and check back over some of the previous articles and see what works best for you. Psychological states are unique to us all so take the time to work on yourself beyond the range and you’ll likely see a benefit on the course.

To find out more

For more psychology resources visit psych-chek and to learn more about the zone, take a look at this research paper which describes how athletes can get into the optimal performance state.

About the Author

Luke Vidler

An amateur golfer and recent graduate of Chichester University. I have both a BSc and MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology and am keen to utilise my knowledge in practical situations, even if I can’t help myself!

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