Keep your head in the game. In golf, that common refrain can be easier said than done.
Enter Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson, the visionary co-founders of “Vision 54” whose current and former roster of students includes 10-time major champion Annika Sorenstam as well as LPGA Tour winners Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn.
“Learning to be in charge of your attention is a common struggle for most golfers,” says Nilsson. “They haven’t really seen it as a trainable skill.”
Marriott and Nilsson recommend creating a mental game plan based on the answers to three key questions:
How do you best stay focused during each shot?
How do you best react following each shot?
How do you best manage yourself between shots?
“Many golfers have never thought about having a game plan for these things,” says Marriott. “And if you don’t have a game plan, you get side-tracked.” Finding the answers to the questions posed by Marriott and Nilsson requires a level of introspection that may not come naturally for most golfers.
“Golfers haven’t trained themselves to be in charge of where they put their attention,” says Nilsson. “Golfers can get distracted in the less than two seconds it takes to make a golf swing.”
As with most things in golf and in life, specificity matters. Ben Hogan discovered that selecting the narrowest possible target kept him optimally focused during each shot. During one casual round, when told to aim for a particular tree down one side of the fairway, Hogan responded, “Which branch?”
The underlying data revealed by these questions will unlock valuable insight and allow golfers to train what Nilsson describes as “human skills,” which contrast with “performance skills” such as alignment, grip or posture. Above all, Marriott stressed the importance of “staying curious and constantly self-analyzing."
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