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Give your game a mental tune up

TUNE UP YOUR GAME:

It’s time to get your game ready for another golfing season. While proper stretching will help to get your muscles ready, you must also tune-up your mental game muscles. Here are eight great tips to prepare your mind for this upcoming season:

1. Use imagery to fix your bad habits All golfers have a few faults from last season they want to fix. Perhaps you release the club too early on the downswing and lose power or you continually come over the top and hit that unwanted slice. Imagery can help you to get rid of those faults.

Sports scientists have discovered that imagery creates a neural-motor connection in the same way that actually swinging the club does. By imagining your swing with the correction, you are helping to groove the swing you desire.

Of course, practice is best to build muscle memory, but imagery will begin the process to the swing you want this season.

2. Build confidence by watching your best swings Most golfers have taken some video of their swing, and hopefully you have captured a few great ones from last season. Watch your best swings over and over to compose a positive mental tape that plays in your mind.

This positive mental tape will also help to create positive images of your swing that you can use at the start of your pre-shot routine.

3. Build emotional toughness by creating a best-play log First, remember a fantastic round you had last season. Record the course and date of the round. Now, and most importantly, write down the positive emotions you had during this fantastic round.

Were you calm or anxious? Did you have high or low intensity? Were you confident or unassured? Be specific with your observations.

Before you play or practice in this upcoming season, refer back to your best-play log to keep your greatness fresh in your mind.

4. Develop an adversity plan Golf is full of mishaps, from terrible shots to unfortunate lies in the middle of the fairway. Preparing for adverse conditions with positive emotions is a necessity for developing excellence. In other words, it is not the bad shot that will affect your play or score, but rather your response to your bad shot.

For this upcoming season, be prepared with positive responses for all your bad shots. It can be as simple as telling yourself to smile after a bad shot like Phil Mickelson does.

5. Play with honest expectations Don’t fall into the trap that you will instantly shoot the same scores from last season. Be realistic in your expectations and you will be less anxious when the season starts. Realistic expectations will also increase your joy for playing as well as decrease your frustration.

6. Go with whom you brought to the dance What would happen if you were to leave the partner you took to the dance and go dance with another? You would get slapped in the face.

The same happens when you keep switching swing thoughts in the middle of the round. You lose confidence in your ability, and you can get confused about what you must do out there.

For this upcoming season, trust the swing thought you bring to the course. Be consistent in your swing thoughts and your scores will become much more consistent.

7. Focus on Improvement What is one aspect of your game you want to improve upon from last season? Is it your chipping? Is it your sand play? Make it your goal to work on improving this aspect of your game for this upcoming season.

When you focus on one element of your game to improve, all your energies go toward fixing it, and you will see improvement. In turn, you will be excited to play, and your scores will improve.

8. Be your best friend Many golfers have developed the bad habit of being their inner-enemy. That is, they begin to call themselves names and get negative about their game in troubled times.

For this upcoming season, create the habit of being your best friend, regardless. A true best friend would be compassionate and fill you with positive thoughts. Become that person and you will become the golfer you want to be this season.

Make deposits in your mental game at the start of this season and you will be able make key withdrawals when necessary. In that way, you will be rich in your mental and emotional toughness and shoot the scores you desire.

Dr. Gregg Steinberg writes a mental game column for PGATour.com. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players.  Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can see more about the mental game at www.drgreggsteinberg.com.

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