FOR THE UNFOCUSED GOLFER

Meditation for Golfers

How it can help you play better golf

Are you having problems concentrating, focussing or balancing when taking shots? Or are you interested in becoming more consistent, accurate, disciplined, and skilled in your game?

Either way, we’re here to assist. We’ll give you practical tips that will help you become a better golfer, and improve your overall well-being through meditation.

The Infographic

Golf Meditation and Mindfulness

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What you'll learn

what is meditation
CHAPTER 1

Meditation - why should you care?

Discover what meditation is and why it is important

meditation for golfers
CHAPTER 2

Meditation benefits for golfers

Learn the most important benefits of golf meditation.

general benefits of meditation
CHAPTER 3

General benefits of meditating

Discover general benefits of meditation off the course

How to practice meditation
CHAPTER 4

How to practice meditation

Learn a simple meditation technique to get started

tools to get started meditation
CHAPTER 5

Tools to help you get started

Some helpful free tools to get started meditating

references
CHAPTER 5

List of
Sources and References

List of the infographic and article sources and studies used

CHAPTER 1

What is Meditation?

and why is it important

First things first. For you and me, Meditation is not some magical technique used by monks in the himalayas to find enlightenment.

In fact, for I think the most helpful way to see it when starting out is as being just a tool.

A very powerful tool, but a tool nonetheless.

Meditation is a set of techniques intended to help you bring awareness to the present. By doing this you train your focus and awareness, which has been shown to have significant psychological and health benefits.

Many cultures, religions and ancient civilizations traditionally practiced meditation because of its neurological, physiological, and psychological benefits.

Why is Meditation important for Golfers?

You have plenty of time during the round, and a lot of time to think about your game. This time is usually the most destructive. Therefore, one of the most important elements of mastering your game is controlling your mind and staying focused.

On the green, your meditation practice gives you several benefits to help you play better golf, consistently. In essence, it...

  • helps you to separate thoughts and emotions, allowing for better choices (and avoid stupid shots)
  • trains you how to stay calm, concentrated and confident on long rounds
  • teaches you to block out distractions and negative thoughts
  • improves your self-control, lifts your mood and lowers your stress
  • allows you to enjoy the game more fully by being more present and engaged

Essentially, mediation is a powerful tool with many benefits to players who practice it. Some of the benefits include mental and health benefits that enable you to play better. Let’s look at some of them in detail.

CHAPTER 2

Mental Benefits of Meditation for Golfers

what you get on the course

It clears your mind

Golf is an outdoor sport. On the course, you walk long distances between shots, which gives you a lot of time to think and distract yourself before making your next shot.

A clear mind is one of the most useful tools for better performance on the course. With a clear intention you focus better, have better mind balance & composure, listen to your instinct more clearly and refrain from external distractions, which enables you to hit the ball just right.

How does meditation help to clear my mind?

Meditation helps you to monitor cognitive processes related to attention & distraction, prevents mind wandering & shifting, and enhances sustained attention (source). A clear mind helps you to withhold external distractions between shots and allows you to focus on your inner thought, which enables you to take accurate shots easily.

Improves Patience

Golf is a game of patience. In a game of golf, you don’t always hit perfect shots because of internal factors like your mood and rethinking your day at the office and external factors like the course terrain, your golf buddies and more. Sometimes, your timing, rhythm, and groove are off, which affects your game. It is during this time that patience becomes essential (source). Our natural tendency is to speed up, to “push through” in order to force a great shot, but wait. Pause instead. Take a deep breath, then take a focused swing instead of a rushed one.

Patience is essential for all golfers because it helps you to wait in position until luck comes your way and overcome the ever-present challenges that golf presents (source).

What is the relationship between meditation and patience?

Meditation boosts patience and calmness by allowing you to maintain emotional equilibrium and reduce the chances of despondency (source).

Through meditation, you improve patience levels and maintain composure, which enables you to grind opponents down during a long round and simply play your best game calmly.

Prevents double bogeys

A double bogey stings for most ambitious golfers since it could be have been avoided most of the time. As Entrepreneur and avid golfer Keith Cunningham points out in his book ‘The Road Less Stupid’, a double bogey is a ‘Bad shot, followed by a stupid shot’.

How does meditation counter the chances of a double-bogey?

Composure, grit, and resilience are useful virtues that help you to avoid double-bogeys during your game. Frequent mindfulness meditation cultivates resilience, grit, and composure according to this study (source). When you are composed and resilient, you evaluate your options more effectively. This gives you a better chance to avoid ‘high risk’ shots out of impulse, which lowers your risk of ending up with stupid shots on your scorecard.

Calms you down

Golf is a game of strategy that requires you to stand still and remain calm to take accurate shots. Agitation, arousal or anxiety negatively affects your game and results in poor play like double or triple bogeys.

How does meditation improve my composure?

With all these distractions and challenges, you need to be a calm, relaxed and composed player to get the best out of your game and meditation proves to be a useful tool. Meditating regularly helps you to reduce distress, anxiety, and agitation, and improves composure and mind relaxation (source).

A calm, composed and relaxed mind enables you to take better shots and ultimately improves your mastery in the game.

Improves your focus

Although multitasking boosts productivity, it depletes our levels of concentration and focus (source). Another study also confirms that concentration levels drop every time you attempt to come back to a task.

Many distractions affect your level of focus during your game including obstacles and the time between shots. Meditation, however, helps you to concentrate and maintain focus during moments in which you would have otherwise been distracted (source).

How does meditation improve your concentration and focus on the course?  

Meditation benefits golfers to focus in two significant ways. It helps you to:

  • Bounce back from distractions every time your mind wanders by boosting the brain’s neural circuitry for concentration and,
  • Tame emotional triggers and focus your attention at will for more extended periods.

Builds your Self Discipline

Let’s face it, Golf is a challenging sport that requires self-discipline, consistency, and dedication for you to master the game. There are many rules & regulations that every player is expected to adhere to as a player. So, lack of self-discipline and reliance affects your game, your relationship with other players, and your consistency on the game (source).

How does meditation improve self-discipline?

Self-discipline is one of the virtues that you gain from playing golf regularly. Meditation, however, has been linked to increased levels of discipline and emotional intelligence (source).

How does self-discipline benefit golfers?

Meditation benefits golfers by imparting strong self-discipline and reliance (source). Self-discipline and reliance help you to remain consistent, follow the rules of the game, establish sound relationships with other players, stay decisive, and play better (source).

Improves Self-Knowledge

Being self-conscious enables you to understand your strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and motivations, which boosts your productivity and improves your skills when performing tasks.

How does meditation improve self-knowledge?

Meditation increases your awareness about yourself by helping you connect with your true inner self; your inner essence as opposed to your personality (source). By boosting self-awareness, frequent meditation enables you to handle emotions effectively and balance your thoughts to match your motivation or goal (source).

What benefits does self-knowledge have to golfers?

Gaining self-awareness through meditation is beneficial because of a couple of reasons. Self-consciousness helps you to understand and master your tricks on the course. Some shots like plugged bunker shots and downhill putts are challenging to take and require more than just mastery (source).

Self-awareness allows you to take difficult shots more easily by enhancing your capability to control emotions, anxiety, and fear of a mishit. Taking downhill putt shots, for example, requires immense balance and consciousness to beat gravity and putt the ball on the first shot (source).

Develops Self-determination

How does meditation build self-determination and actualization?

Meditating frequently helps you to become more resilient and patient when making important decisions. The practice boosts your understanding of success and helps you to make the right choices geared towards achieving your goals according to this research (source).

Why is self-determination essential?

In a game of golf, the goal is to put your ball in the hole by taking the least possible shots on every round. Meditation builds patience and resilience: virtues that help you to remain calm when taking shots and resilient when you make mistakes. By breeding determination within you, meditation helps you to play and complete your game without giving up.

CHAPTER 3

General Benefits of Meditation

what you get off the course

Better mental and physical performance

A healthy mind and body are essential when playing a sport like golf or undertaking other forms of physical activity. By increasing your cortical thickness, regular meditation improves your attention, focus, and ability to perform under stress according to a study carried out by the University of California (source). Meditators also have large amounts of gyrification, the folding of the cortex, which boosts information processing and memory formation according to this research (source).

Regular meditation sessions boost your immune system & functions and fight against diseases and infections (source), which affects your performance on the course. A healthy immune system prevents diseases, allowing you to have more time for practice and play.

Meditation also keeps body organs healthy and functioning, which amplifies your performance. According to a 2012 study, it was revealed that frequently meditating significantly reduces the risk of heart disease and improves overall heart health (source).

Moreover, research shows that meditation helps in the prevention, treatment, and management of various illnesses and conditions including

  • Hypertension (source).
  • Inflammatory disorders (source).
  • Asthma, Rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease (source).
  • Premenstrual syndrome and menopausal systems (source).
  • Alzheimer’s and premature death (source).
  • HIV, according to this study (source).

Mediation benefits golfers mentally and physically by boosting performance and keeping you healthy, which translates to improved play, skill, and mastery in the game.

Improves Sleep

Your body needs to rest after a long day at work, and sleep is its way of doing so. You need at least 6 hours of sleep every day for your body to remain healthy and body systems & functions to run smoothly.

Busy schedules, smartphones, and unlimited internet connectivity limit your sleep; affect your sleeping patterns, and put you at risk of disorders like insomnia and narcolepsy. Inadequate sleep leaves your body and brain fatigued, which affects your concentration, focus and overall performance on the course.

Forget sleeping pills and practice meditation every day before bedtime to get enough sleep and rest. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a potentially effective intervention for sleep disturbances and insomnia (source). Meditation also improves sleep by helping you to stay away from electronic gadgets and other distractions that affect your sleeping patterns.

Having enough sleep improves your performance on the course by enabling you to relieve stress, concentrate, focus, and take better shots.

Quieter and clearer mind

A calm and clear mind can be a life-saving tool during stressful occasions on the course and in general life. Sometimes, you will need to take difficult shots from tricky places like sand bunkers and under trees, which require you to be extra calm and composed. In these situations, having a quiet, clear mind helps you take better shots and improve your performance.

Can meditation give you a clearer and quieter mind?

Meditation helps in many ways including clearing your mind to give you peace of mind. Many meditators practice it to relax and clear the mind (source). Meditation gets rid of clogged thoughts and stories you attach during life events.

Meditating regularly before your game allows you to tap into your intuition, boosts creativity & energy, and helps you to develop enthusiasm for your game. That way, you improve your overall performance on the course.

Be more present with loved ones

When you play golf, you meet and engage different people on the course. You establish healthy relationships with other players, which enables you to network and close deals easily on the trail.  Regular meditation also helps you to have good relations with loved ones through ego-resilience, self-acceptance and ‘a loving attitude.’

What is the connection between meditation and relationships?

Although it’s a solitary exercise, meditation improves your personal and social relationships. Metta, for example, is a loving-kindness type of meditation where you focus on developing a sense of care and benevolence towards living beings (source).

Nurturing healthy relationships through regular meditation on and off the course helps you play better and reduces the chances of developing social anxiety disorders, loneliness, worry, and isolation (source).

Ability to stay consistently focused

Maintaining focus consistently on the course can be difficult thanks to distractions like the environment and your golf buddies. The time between shots also affects your attention and consciousness, ultimately affecting your performance.

Does meditation help you to remain focused consistently?

A study done by Emory University demonstrated that meditating regularly increases connectivity within the brain networks that control attention. It also develops cognitive skills like maintaining concentration and disengaging from distraction (source).

Consistent focus and attention during your game enables you to maintain a low score, good play and improves your performance on the course.

Higher levels of confidence

Let’s face it! Skill and mastery are essential for you to be at the top of your game, but without confidence, your game can be greatly undermined. Golf is a challenging game that requires you to be confident to perform at your level best.

How does meditation increase self-confidence?

True self-confidence is based on a foundation of self-awareness by understanding your strengths and weaknesses at an intimate level. One core tenet of meditation is to disregard judgment & negative thoughts and instill a sense of self-appreciation and confidence.

Meditating before a game helps you to condition your mind to refrain from judging your limitations and mistakes, and instead use them as hidden strengths (source).

True understanding of your strengths, limitations, and mistakes ultimately becomes powerful, subtle, and effortless self-confidence that improves your performance on the course.

Ability to eliminate tension

It is not unusual for you to feel tense before a game whether during actual tournaments or friendly matches. Tension results from many things including the fear of losing, making mistakes or intimidation from better players. Tension affects you focus, accuracy, and overall performance, which results in poor play and high scores.

How does meditation remedy tension?

A study conducted on 32 adults by All India Institute of Medical Sciences revealed that practicing meditation regularly before stressful events limit the adverse effects of tension and stress (source).

You significantly reduce stress and tension before your game by meditating frequently beforehand, which enables you to play better and improve your overall performance. You can practice tension-relieving meditation through these three ways.  

Reduced anxiety

Anxiety occurs in many golfers during different stages of the game, but it’s most common when putting your ball in the cup; a feeling golfers refer to as Yips. Both skilled and amateur players suffer from yips (source).

Yips, which is a common anxiety problem amongst golfers affects your game and may lead to mistakes that prevent you from putting your ball from a mere 3 feet away.

How does meditation limit anxiety and golf yips?

Anxiety is a cognitive state that limits your ability to regulate emotional responses to threats or stressful events. When you meditate, you strengthen your cognitive abilities and curb anxiety.

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Center conducted a study with fifteen volunteers to establish the effects of mindfulness meditation on anxiety. According to the findings, meditating for at least 20 minutes every day helps with anxiety relief (source).

Reduced anxiety and yips enables you to play better, reduces chances of mishits, and helps you to put your ball in the hole comfortably.

Better Visualization of the next shot

Planning and preparing for your next shot can be a huge advantage especially when you need all the luck you can get. Failure to have a strategy before every shot leads to poor hits or mishits that affect your performance. Visualizing and strategizing about your next shot improves performance and limits chances of distraction between shots.

What role does meditation play in this?

According to a study, long-term meditation improves your visuospatial processing and executive functioning (source).

Improved visualization not only helps you to take better shots, but it also limits distraction between shots. That way, your mind stays focused on the game and enables you to perform better.

Playing better under pressure

Seldom does a golf game lack situations where you experience increased pressure. Pressuring conditions include putting, hitting your ball out of bunkers or playing a timed game. During such moments, you require increased calmness and composure to take winning shots and perform exceptionally.  

How does meditation help during pressuring moments of the game?

A study done by the University of California confirmed that meditation training helps you to remain focused and attentive during stressful events and when performing tedious repetitive tasks (source).

 

Meditating before your game improves your ability to focus, remain attentive and calm when paying under pressure. You can take better shots and perform better during such situations.  

Learn how to manage time and to reduce negative thoughts between shots

Time is of the essence during every golf game. Observing time is a rule in golf that requires you to take as less time as possible when it’s your turn to play. Some of the everyday events that cause you to waste time include distractions, anxiety, stress, double bogeys and more. Negative thoughts also limit your performance and force you to take too much time when playing.

If you can handle most of these situations, you perform better and save time on the course.

Meditation helps you to deal with all these time-consuming events including limiting distraction, stress, anxiety, and negative thoughts. It also improves your focus and enables you to play better as seen earlier in the article.

Be more resilient when faced with setbacks

You will not always have a good time on the course. Sometimes you take bad shots, miss some hits or suffer double bogeys that affect your performance. Resilience and patience are essential qualities that you should have whenever you suffer such setbacks.

Resilience helps you to continue playing when you don’t feel like or when your performance is poor, and patience enables you to remain calm during such situations.

Where does meditation come in?

Meditating regularly allows you to be more resilient and increases your levels of patience, which help you when you suffer setbacks on the course (source). Practicing meditation before every game can also limit the chances of suffering setbacks, which allows you to perform better.

Increased happiness

Meditation has numerous benefits both psychological and physiological. When practiced over a long period, meditation improves your health and mental well-being. Having a sound body and mind improves your moods and leaves you happy, stress-free, and relaxed, which improves your overall performance on the course.

How does meditation improve my moods and increase my happiness?

Meditation limits instances of stress and low moods and improves your psychological well-being, which increases happiness according to this study (source).

Playing golf when relaxed and happy influences your game and helps you to perform at your level best.

CHAPTER 4

How to practice
'Golf Meditation'

a simple technique to get started

  1. Find a quiet place where you can be undisturbed for 15-20 minutes, and let soothing music play in the background
  2. Sit on flat ground or on a comfortable chair with both feet on the ground and your hands on your lap.
  3. Take a deep breathe through your nose and exhale through your mouth
  4. Relax your muscles and close your eyes
  5. Lift your posture up through your spine and bring your chin towards your chest
  6. Release any judgment and allow things to be in the present moment
  7. If you get distracted, release those thoughts and bring yourself back to the practice without judging yourself (it’s normal to get distracted, especially when starting out)
  8. Start breathing gently in and out through your nose releasing any stress, tension, and worries as you exhale
  9. Inhale again and as you exhale, relax your forehead and release any tension between your eyes
  10. Inhale once again and exhale gently as you let go of any clutching in your jaw
  11. Inhale through your nose and exhale through the mouth while loosening the muscles in your neck. Allow your shoulders to surrender to gravity as you release tension
  12. Inhale and exhale any remaining tension and tightness down your shoulders and through your legs

While in this state:

  1. Visualize the best game, recall your best shots, think about the compliments you’ve received from other players and let that feeling expand your confidence
  2. See yourself move from each hole with ease and let a sense of confidence fill your body for 1-2 minutes
  3. When you are ready, bring awareness back to your body by taking deep breaths through your nose and out through the mouth then open your eyes
  4. Finally, inhale with your arms over your head and gently release them down to your side then relax for a couple of minutes at that moment
  5. You will feel relaxed, concentrated and focused after this mind-training

CHAPTER 5

Tools to get started

and kickstart your meditation journey

Calm (Mobile App)

A free app to get you started with guided meditation using headphones. The Calm App comes with over 100-guided meditation techniques that help you manage anxiety, lower your stress levels and sleep better. It is an ideal choice for beginners but also includes numerous programs for intermediate and advanced meditators.

Link to the Website  

Headspace (Mobile App)

This another free app to get you started with guided meditation using headphones. It comes with a basic pack to guide you through the essentials of meditation in the form of a 10-day beginner’s course. The’re hundreds of meditation techniques for beginners, intermediates and advanced meditators.

Link to the Website

YouTube: Channels

Great Channels such as “The Honest Guys” provide free, high quality guided meditations.

Link to the Website

The Inner game of golf

This book offers various awareness and visualization techniques to help your game and meditation practice.

Link to the Book

REFERENCES

References & Sources

where to go from here

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