In my coaching, one of the first things that clients ask is what else can they do to improve their golf other than practice and improve their swing? I have researched this question and have come up with this summary of fourteen key things that will renew, refresh, and enhance your inner game as well as spill over into your outer game. Because golf so closely mirrors life, each and every one of these keys applies to your life as well.
1) Gratitude – Exercising gratitude is the quickest, most effective and powerful way to affect mood changes for the better. Identifying things to appreciate can be done in an instant at any time and anywhere. Do so has the dual benefit of quieting your internal chatter while helping you overcome fear. It takes you into the state of “now” where you can play your best golf.
2) Forgiveness – Exercising forgiveness is actually a gift to your self regardless of whether it is directed toward someone else or you. This is a great relaxing agent that can instantly decrease stress. It cannot be exercised too often.
3) Nutrition – Many Americans are literally digging their graves with their teeth. Processed fast foods may quell hunger, but they don’t add vitality to your life or golf game. While I am not a nutritionist, I have listened to many experts and the overwhelming consensus is that you should be sure to drink plenty of water, avoid tobacco and caffeine, eat natural vegetables and fruits, avoid fried and processed foods. And finally, you probably need to take supplements to compensate for the nutrients that are no longer present in our food.
4) Exercise – Nutrition and diet mean little if we do not accompany such with exercise. Stretching and exercise are paramount to enjoying your golf game and allowing for any chance of improvement.
5) Try new things in the game. The enjoyment of exploring and experimenting, be it playing new courses, learning different shots, playing with different people, varying weather conditions, playing different formats, etc. offers new opportunities for growth as well as keeps the game fresh and interesting.
6) Breathing – When we breathe, we energize and become alive. The very low frequency vibrations, fear and anger, are characterized by an imbalance of breathing. Anger, in particular, is usually accompanied by weak inhalation and forced exhalation. Our objective should be first an awareness of our breathing. Secondly, you will want to practice a relaxed, controlled cadence of belly breathing. You should practice this at least once a day for ten minutes. Enhanced breathing can improve our emotional, physical, and mental health, and therefore our success at anything.
7) Time – Give the gift of time to yourself every day. Doing so validates your purpose, goal, and signals to your inner self or subconscious that you are worth. Time is also a sign of commitment. The amount of time can vary, but the practice of devoting some time daily is important.
8) Pampering – Be kind to yourself. Being kind to yourself not only feels good, but it also has the benefit of informing our habitual self or subconscious that we are good, worthy people.
9) Celebration – Find things and events about your game to celebrate. Even the worst rounds can be cause for a “pat on the back” if you maintained your composure, continued to embrace the moment, and learned anything from the experience.
10) Play – Your golf, even at a competitive level, is intended to be playful and joyful. That doesn’t mean that a “grinder” can’t continue to concentrate and work hard, but they should also remember to take themselves lightly. While practice is good and necessary, don’t become a “Ranger Rick” to the exclusion of playing the game.
11) Education – Reading, learning new skills or shots or observing skilled players is a good start. Avoid the magazine lessons they may be medicine for some and poison for you. Besides, many within the same magazine issues can be contradictory of each other. Here is the time to consult a capable golf professional – especially one that is capable of communicating with you about not only how to hit the ball, but play the game. Unfortunately, my experience is that many instructors just talk, don’t converse, and confine their offering to swinging and hitting. Your goal should be to learn to “play” the game.
12) Meditation/Prayer – Quiet yourself daily for ten to twenty minutes to consider what is important to you. When you honestly quiet your mental chatter and ego, you begin to discover that there is real genuine genius within all of us. You will soon discover that you are, indeed, your own best coach, and that you intuitively understand what is right and wrong for you. While your mind may often lie to you, your heart never will.
13) Creative “Other” Activities – Try other physical, mental, and social activities that might enhance your golf experience. They could be as far fetched as learning to dance or a embracing a new language – you never know when a new contact, insight, or skill might expand your golf opportunities.
14) Selfless Service to Others – Golf is best played and enjoyed with a healthy, joyful soul. When we help other, we really help ourselves. Ask yourself how you can give or be of service to others. It can be as simple as giving a smile, really listening to someone, or charity of any sort.
Don’t limit these suggestions to golf. Let them spill over into other areas of life and see what happens.