Golf

This simple mind trick mutes your golf fears. Here's how it works

Elevate your love of the game with….
Discover a revolutionary method that eliminates fear when it matters most.
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I’m always so fascinated with how the mind works, specifically when it comes to performance in sports.
For example, I’m a big runner who has completed over 20 half-marathons and, until recently, would run 5+ miles about three days each week. While most people usually blast music during a workout, I often listen to classical music or no tunes at all, finding it’s the best way to calm my mind, focus on my breathing, and clear any thoughts.
The result? Maximizing my performance and often running my best mile splits.
When I tell GOLF Top 100 Teachers about this headspace I’m able to get into during a run, they often reply back with something along the lines of, “we need to get your mental game to the same spot on the golf course.”
Unfortunately, like other mid-handicappers, my mind becomes a serious demon on the golf course.
I overthink certain shots, worry about what my playing partners might think or say, judge myself for not exceeding my own expectations, and can get frustrated when my performance doesn’t match my capabilities. Sound familiar?
Part of what makes golf so tricky is that it takes more than just being athletic to be successful. It’s what differentiates the game from so many other sports that require sheer strength or physical prowess.
And while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for silencing these fears or general golf anxiety, GOLF Top 100 Teacher Kevin Sprecher does suggest a mind trick that can help give you an edge over other players.
Says Sprecher, “in the realm of golf, fear lurks as an omnipresent force, influencing players across all skill levels.
“It’s the subtle golf anxiety of potential failure, the underlying uneasiness of embarrassment, the cautious worry of the unknown, and the gentle apprehension of poor decisions. Fear weaves itself into the game, either propelling players forward with motivation or acting as a silent adversary, impacting skills, capabilities, and confidence.”
When a golfer plays with this fear, it leads to tension — which can cause even the smallest swing or grip adjustments. This often leads to inconsistent shots, says Amy Kennedy, a competitive player at Wilderness Country Club in Naples, Fla.
“Most of us are a bit afraid of hitting a poor pitch (thin or fat) or misjudging the speed of a putt, causing a 3-putt. Fear is often ‘fear of choking’”, adds Kennedy. “The fear causes tension, which usually leads to tighter grip pressure and results in a poor shot.”
But to reach your full golf potential, a player must confront, welcome, and overcome any fear in their mind, allowing them to play free. This enables them to stay composed and hit their targets; regardless of external factors.
As Sprecher adds, “true mastery in golf lies in navigating challenges with composure and executing shots with a steady hand, transcending the grip of fear.”
Jack Nicklaus famously said that “90 percent of [golf] is mental, and only 10 percent is physical.”
Whether golf really is 90 percent mental or not, the consensus is that thinking well can significantly improve scores. A perfect swing isn’t immune to pressure or mental errors, but a strong mind is.
Overcoming the fear of failure requires acknowledging it rather than denying it. False confidence won’t suffice. So instead of attempting to eliminate fear, the key lies in challenging it and surpassing its limitations.
Sprecher suggests achieving a state of fearlessness by entering “The Zone”, where instincts take control, allowing for a game played without hesitation.
“In this state, the swing occurs naturally, relying on practiced and ingrained techniques,” he says. “Being in the zone is characterized by automatic and effortless execution, where the swing unfolds spontaneously, with simplicity and ease — the epitome of true fearlessness.”
Sprecher says that there are a number of different techniques that exist for helping conquer fear. One such strategy is “box breathing”, a method that Navy Seals employ during high-pressure situations.
“This technique involves a four-second pattern of inhaling, holding, exhaling, and repeating, gradually slowing the heart rate and aiding stress control, fostering a clear mental state,” he adds. “An alternative technique is the 1-2-3-4-5 method, a practice that interrupts negative internal dialogue by prompting an audible count while taking a shot.”
A major problem when it comes to developing strong mental skills for regular players is simply time and dedication — something many amateurs don’t have. There aren’t too many weekend warriors who can casually train themselves to focus like a Navy Seal.
This is where a simple mind trick can be used instead: Audio Golf, which is a game-changing method that combines the benefits of external, internal, and neutral focus.
Sprecher explains how Audio Golf works.
“Players think of specific sound patterns during their swings that contain all the critical information for effective execution,” he says. “This neutral focus on sound patterns simultaneously blocks distracting thoughts and allows the body to execute the swing movement on a more effective, subconscious level.”
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One such sound pattern is the “ya-la-bam,” which is designed for a consistent distance of 12 to 15 feet. Since everyone responds to sounds slightly differently, one golfer’s ya-la-bam will result in a 12-foot distance, while another golfer’s ya-la-bam will result in a 14-foot distance. The important thing is that it’s consistent for both.
Adds Sprecher, “during the backswing, think ‘ya-la’ to control its length, and as you swing toward the ball, think ‘bam’ to control its speed. The 2:1 rhythm, with the backswing twice as long as the follow through, ensures a consistent and precise putt.
“This technique not only enhances putting abilities, but also eliminates the fear of failure when it matters most: Thinking ya-la-bam while swinging puts you in the zone for the 1.5 to 2 seconds of your swing.”
Incorporating this ya-la-bam rhythm blocks all stress-induced thoughts during the swing, providing a player the best opportunity to see success.
A sound pattern like ya-la-bam helps distract a golfer from other thoughts like the aforementioned 1-2-3-4-5 counting method. At the same time, the brain picks up the sound elements and translates them directly into a synchronized swing motion — hence calming nerves and any performance anxiety.
So Audio Golf’s sound patterns aren’t just distracting thoughts, but are actually cues that improve the swing and its consistency.
By using this simple mind trick while playing golf, you can relax the nerves and let your confidence ooze out to maximize your performance.

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