Many sports will require a certain amount of focus and discipline if players hope to succeed. Baseball professionals are inevitably told to “keep their eye on the ball” immediately prior to their swing. Football players will often keep their attention further afield; important when anticipating the movements of their opponents. Free divers need to carefully control their breathing and heart rates in order to descend to nearly inhuman depths while remaining safe. Golf is another example of how your mental state will have a dramatic impact upon your performance while on the course. Before we take a look at some of the most effective ways to avoid distractions, it is important to understand what takes place within the mind when you learn to focus your attention towards a specific task.
The Importance of Keeping Focus at All Times to Avoid Distractions
Many of the actions which are performed by your brain are autonomic processes. In other words, they take place on a subconscious level without your awareness. Some common examples include maintaining your balance when walking across difficult terrain, blinking when bug happens to appear in front of your eyes and gauging the distance of an approaching a vehicle before crossing the road.
The brain is truly an amazing organ, as it has the ability to focus upon a discrete task with a nearly unheard-of level of commitment. However, there are two steps which must first occur:
- The brain determines which items within the background are important. In other words, its develops its own set of temporary priorities.
- Extraneous details are removed from the picture and those which are the most relevant will be included and prioritised.
For instance, have you ever noticed how time seems to “melt away” when performing an interesting task such as reading your favourite book? In the same respect, many individuals report that everything occurs in slow motion when they are involved in a car accident. Both of these situations are the direct results of your mind focusing upon a specific set of situations (known as stimuli). In the former, you are engrossed within an interesting story. In the latter, your mind has literally dropped everything else in order to survive a potentially life-or-death scenario.
However, there are rarely fatal outcomes on the golf course. It is nonetheless a fact that becoming distracted can have a massive impact on your handicap and in some cases, it might even cost you the match. How to the professionals remain completely centred when there are literally thousands of fans looking on? This is one of the traits which separates a successful golfer from one who always seems to be falling just short of the mark. Let’s take a look at five excellent suggestions which will help to increase your mental alacrity when it is needed to the most.
Why Should You Regularly Exercise?
Most of us are already well aware of the benefits associated with regular exercise. How does this healthy habit tie into a game of golf? To be absolutely clear, we are not necessarily recommending that you run a marathon or compete in a powerlifting event. Even moderate levels of exercise such as jogging or a mild aerobic session have been shown to produce amazing results. Why is this the case?
Research has found that exercising on a regular basis releases certain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Examples include epinephrine and serotonin. These are sometimes referred to as “feel-good” hormones; one reason that the concept of a runner’s high is actually a reality. Another benefit associated with such substances is that they will help you to focus on a golf course even while others become distracted. This also arises from the fact that regular bouts of exercise will provide your brain with more oxygen. So, try to incorporate some type of exercise programme into your current lifestyle. The chances are high that you will be quite pleased with the results.
Think Outside of the Box to Retrain Your Mind
The mind loves to be challenged, and we are not only referring to thinking tasks in this case. Activities such as yoga can have a profound impact upon your performance while on the golf course. Scientists believe that yoga is not simply a physical movement. It requires a great deal of concentration on the present moment and balance. Thus, you are retraining your mind while strengthening your body. Yoga may also help you to process information at a faster rate and to adapt to changing situations; both beneficial traits while on the course. Let’s likewise remember that possessing flexibility and a strong core is essential if you hope to avoid injuries.
Why Might Diet Play a Crucial Role?
Can you avoid being distracted on a golf course by eating right? The answers to this question might surprise you. There are certain foods which have been known to boost cognitive functions if consumed on a regular basis. These are often referred to as “superfoods” in the marketing community. Not only can these substances help to augment your cognitive abilities, but they contain many vitamins and minerals which are required to maintain your health. Some common (and tasty) examples include:
- Spinach and brocolli
- Raw berries (such as cherries and blackberries)
In the same respect, there are other foods which should be avoided if you hope to cut down on any distractions during a game. These tend to substances high in saturated fats and cholesterol. To put it simply, the majority of foods which are good for the mind are also excellent for the body. Before you hit the green, enjoy a few vegetables or drink a refreshing smoothie. There is no doubt that you will notice a profound difference.
The critical role of water likewise needs to be mentioned. Remaining properly hydrated helps your mind to function at a higher capacity; reducing feelings of lethargy and malaise. This is especially important if you happen to be playing on a very warm day. Always remember to drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel overly thirsty.
Develop a Firm and Constant Routine
We are all creatures of habit and the same holds true in regards to obtaining a greater level of focus on a golf course. Some of the most well-known professionals are known for their rather methodical practices before and during a match. While these may seem slightly odd to the layman, it is obvious that such routines work.
There is a substantial amount of science which backs up such claims. By their very definition, routines are simply established patterns of behaviour which become automatic if repeated a significant number of times. In fact, the neurons (cells) within your brain will literally change their physical positions in order to accommodate for such habits. Developing a predetermined routine (such as taking five minutes to control your breathing or even adopting a pre-swing ritual) can dramatically increase your performance and reduce the chances of becoming distracted during a match.
Embracing the Concept of Self-Awareness While on the Course
Focus alone might not be enough for some golfers. While it is wise to remain in tune with the surroundings as well as what you are about to do, it is just as critical to become more aware of your thought processes. This form of self-awareness will enable you to immediately notice if transient thoughts begin to enter into your mind. If they happen to be detected, they can easily be blocked.
Psychologists have used this technique for decades. They appreciate the fact that it is difficult to remain focused upon an individual task if dozens of other thoughts are careening throughout the mind. This is why university examinations take place within quiet areas free from noise conversation. Try to remain aware of your train of thought while on the green. Take note of any situations that might cause your mind to wander. After all, the best way to eliminate a problem is to become aware of its existence.
Time and Patience for distractions
These five steps can all produce viable results if practised on a regular basis. Still, let us remember that such habits will naturally take a bit of time to develop. This is the reason why it could require years of dedication before you have the ability to block everything out of your mind during a meditation session. Still, practice makes perfect. It may also be wise to experiment with each of the recommendations outlined above. The chances are high that some are more relevant to your current situation. Keep an open mind and do not become overly frustrated if your attention happens to lapse on occasion. Developing such habits will not occur overnight and yet, you will undoubtedly notice an improvement with a bit of discipline. As always, feel free to refer back to this article for inspiration in the future.
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