Train your brain

Sports performance coach Steve Ward explains how to boost your mind power

Good performances don't happen by accident they're a result of good thinking. Don't leave your thoughts to chance train them. Establish a "peak performance vocabulary" a list of key words and powerful images you can deliberately choose to think of in specific situations and contexts to take charge of your emotions and performance.

Think how you would like to feel in certain scenarios and come up with a set of key words and phrases (and/or visual icons/images) that generate those feelings. Rehearse them until they become "anchored" as a habit.

It's been wisely said that the trouble with positive thinking is that you have to think about it! You don't want to have to try to be positive; you don't want to have to try to feel confident and relaxed. You want to develop an automatic and unconscious skill.

What could you say or imagine in each of the following situations to feel more capable and confident? Your opponent is leading. You're anxious. You have taken the lead. Your concentration is lapsing. You're feeling fatigue. You've lost motivation. There is friction with other team members. You have done better than expected.

Having key words for both positive and negative scenarios is equally important.

Key words and visual icons can also be used to focus more effectively on important aspects of performance. You might have a key word, phrase or image to help with your swing, a particular shot, concentration, will to win or relaxation.

Make a list of what emotional states and performance aspects are important to you, and note beside each item a key word, phrase or image that you will use to generate it. Use them in practice and play make them a habit of success! Some players like to write theirs on small pieces of card and have them in their golf bag, or pocket.

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