Golfer’s edge: A new path to peak performance

February 26, 2012

Sports, Success

When you are shopping for a peak performance program to enhance your golf game look for one that provides you with more information about your brain and body than your normal senses can provide.

by Stephanie Reese, Ph.D. — 

Put a golfer out on the links and it is almost guaranteed that they are looking for a way to overcome the challenges of the incredible and often difficult game of golf. So what is the secret to overcoming these challenges to make that coveted, perfect shot?

You can live on the practice green or hit hundreds of balls on the range. Both are necessary, but until you can achieve the focus needed for each shot and a relaxed attention between shots, all your practice will be in vain.

First, you must be able to achieve a calm, yet aware, state of mind between shots. This requires being in input mode — open to the entire environment around you. Once you become aware of environmental input, then you shift your mental state to analysis mode: Which club to use? How hard to hit the ball? Fade it?

At this point, you need to shift into performance mode, where you apply your analysis results. The mental state here should be one of relaxed focus. Your brain can then direct your body to perform that long-practiced swing. You then shift back into input mode for the next shot. Over the course of 18 holes, you will be called upon to repeat this cycle dozens of times without becoming frustrated or angry. It may sound simple, but it can also be a lot to ask of a competitive person.

You cannot learn this process of shifting your state of mind through biomechanics or golf-swing training. Though these are important skills, what you really must achieve is a fundamental change in your brain processes — you need to learn to focus and relax just when you need to.

In recent years, peak performance neurotherapy techniques have emerged to help athletes get into the “zone.” In 2006, the Italian soccer team used mental training techniques to help them win the World Cup. Team members discovered that neurofeedback, guided imagery and other cognitive restructuring techniques helped retrain their thinking and improve their play.

These techniques enable the athlete to increase his mental acuity, relaxation and mental flexibility; reduce interfering emotions and mental chatter; gain clarity; and resist outside pressures, all while avoiding inconsistent play and frustration.

Not all so-called peak performance systems are alike. Some use a single technology for a one-size-fits-all approach. We have found, however, that combining multiple technologies in an integrated system provides better and faster results than a single-therapy approach.

What should you look for when you are shopping for a peak performance program to enhance your golf game? Look for one that provides you with more information about your brain and body than your normal senses can provide. Look for a systematic approach with integrated therapies. Finally, look for a program that understands that one of the keys to athletic excellence is achieving the state of relaxed attention essential for high-performance physical tasks.

 

Stephanie Reese, Ph.D., can be reached at The Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine in Scottsdale, Ariz., the only medical clinic in the U.S. that offers BrainAdvantage, a breakthrough in simplicity and effectiveness for brain training. 480-240-2600 or www.ArizonaAdvancedMedicine.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 4, Aug/Sept 2010.

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