Ensure You're In The Moment - With Every Shot You Play


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  • You’ve just hit what you thought was a solid drive - a “Yeah; I nailed this fairway” blast. But your ball first touches down close to the left fairway fringe — then continues on into the thick rough, where it finds a difficult lie. You still have a relatively straight line to the pin. But as you set up to this shot, you’re still thinking about what could have gone wrong with your drive swing - and not wholly focused and involved with the current shot before you. As such, what do you think the results of your current shot will be?

  • You’re a bit right of center fairway, second shot of a par four hole. You calculate about 165 in to the flag stick. You pull out a five iron and reason “Ok - the green should be quick enough for me to go past the pin with backspin. Yeah; I’ll air this one out a bit, and let it roll back. ” You set up, and execute. But, even though you hit what you thought was a relatively quality shot, you wind up in a deeply cut bunker on the left side of the green. Even though you think of yourself as an adequate bunker player, and it’s about a 25 foot wedge shot to the cup, as you set up to this shot, you’re still thinking about what went wrong with what you thought was a good approach shot. And, because you’re not wholly focused on the bunker shot you’re addressing, what do you think the result of this shot might be?

  • Your ball is 4 ½ feet from the cup, and you’re thinking birdie. From the angle you’re at, you notice a slight left break to the cup, and a slight down slope to the green roughly two feet past the cup, from your vantage point. As you set up the your ball, you think “Ok…I got this; there’s my line; now, just smoothly putt. ” You execute, and instead of going in, your ball lips out – and keeps on rolling into the slight down slope. Now, instead of birdie, you’re 5 ½ feet up a slight rise for par.

  • You read your break line now, you mentally reinforce “Ok…I’m a very good putter. ” But as you determine your break line, and then set up to your putt, you find you’re still thinking about what went wrong with the “sure thing” birdie shot that lipped out just a moment ago. And now, because you’re not wholly focused and involved with this current putt…what do you think the results of this putt might be?

    I’m not just trying to paint a “problems” laden picture here; all the scenarios I’ve detailed have likely happened to you. And similar type outcomes will undoubtedly happen during your future rounds. My point is not to highlight the unpredictable, or those “What; I can’t believe that just happened!” type anguish inducing outcomes. My point is to make you realize that the unexpected (the negative/undesired sense) will occur. But once a shot is played, it’s played. Then, you need to move on to complete focus and involvement with your very next shot.

    You can’t un-do what has happened. You can, however, dissipate the negative emotion that unfolds and lingers to “infect” your very next shot. And, you can direct your thinking away from the “bad” that just happened — and toward the good, you want to make happen in the now (the good you want to produce within a specific shot you’re now engaging in the immediate, current moment).

    Baseball pitchers, tennis players, basketball players and golfers all have a similar challenge. They must readily release all thought and emotion connected with flubs and mistakes … and re-focus themselves to be fully, positively involved with what they’re doing right now.

    “Hey, Pete…it’s not that easy you know. I mean, when you execute, and you blow the shot, it stays with you. Like when someone slaps you on your upper arm; you feel the sting, and it gradually wears off, but not completely right away!”

    With physical sensation, yes. With mental/emotional sensation, you can readily dissolve lingering negative thoughts and feelings - and re-establish the state of mind (on your very next shot), that enables you to play as proficiently as you possibly can.

    Remember, your mind is your mind - you can train it (like you would a muscle) to let go of the immediate past, and become completely absorbed within, and attuned to current moment needs and involvements.

    And, with the simple to apply process I’m about to outline for you, you’ll find it becomes easier and easier to totally discharge the anguish of a misplay – and then re-align yourself to generate success and effectiveness with your very next shot.

    And think - really think - how many shots after you flub or fail does your misplay effect? No doubt, more than you’d like. Well, can you continue justify allowing one poor shot to emotionally undermine and compromise your next 2-3 shots (and compromise and dis-allow you from staying in the moment, and mentally on track)?

    No? I didn’t think so. And with this in mind, let me first tell you there is something you can do to dis-continue thoughts of your immediate past from lingering, and invading your current focus. It’s a process I developed for you enabling you to keep your mind where you are, and wholly focused upon effectively doing what you must in the now, so you give yourself the best shot at producing the result you want.

    First, let me offer you a performance rule of thumb: The clearer and more precise your focus, and the more your whole awareness is channeled into your immediate task at hand, the more likely you are to produce the success you want, indeed, the success you’re truly capable of.

    As such, following is a process that’s easy to use, and decisive results inciting. Use it exactly as outlined when you’re preparing to set up to a shot, and find your mind still ruminating over the shot you just played — the shot that didn’t turn out the way you wanted, or expected.

    Don’t continue allowing your negative immediate past to dampen your capacity for success in your immediate present. Use the following target focus process to mentally release what was, and prime yourself for maximum competency in the what is NOW:

    Step 1: Breathing Discharge Of Your Immediate Past Anguish

    Moving toward your current shot, and clearly noticing you’re still obsessing, analyzing, and/or ruminating about the shot you just played (that did not turn out the way you expected), first mentally, silently say to yourself S-t-o-p! (And internally exclaim this poignantly and forcefully. ) This will serve to stop your “mental wheels” from continuing to spin within processing involvement with your immediate past. )

    Next, inhale a long, deep breath in through your nostrils. And as you do, allow your stomach to expand and distend, so you perform a diaphragm breath.

    Then, easily exhale this breath to a count of 4 (i. e. , 4, 3, 2, 1), slowly through your mouth.

    Step 2: Centering Yourself In The Immediate Present - In The Current Moment

    After your full release breath, then mentally/silently say to yourself “Right here – right NOW!” And inwardly exclaim this statement definitively, so you gain a sensory connection with being right in the immediate present.

    “Right here – right NOW!” sensing you’re now totally current with your reality and shot situation demand.

    Yes, just allow the movies and conversations you were mentally playing about your immediate past to subside – and feel, see, and be wholly in the now of your current realm. Feel your feet upon the ground beneath you, and sense that the whole of your mind, feelings, body, and intent is now in the present moment of your life.

    Step 3: Mentally Detail Precision Shot Excellence…Now

    Now you’ve released the anguish of your previous flub (through Step #1’s breathing technique). You’ve centered yourself into the current moment of your round (via Step #2’s mental command, and approach). Now, I want you to mentally detail what success with your upcoming shot entails.

    Briefly create a detailed set of images depicting the following:

  • You having determined a specific outcome point for your shot

  • You setting up to your ball confidently, with total focus, commitment, and positive expectancy

  • You smoothly, purposefully executing a precision swing motion depicting yourself clearly

    generating a thoroughly proficient backswing, downswing, ball contact, and follow through

    stroke motion

  • Your ball then naturally carrying to, and then coming to touch down upon your pre-set

    outcome point. (Or, rolling smoothly along your pre-determined break line toward, then into

    the cup. )

    [*You can either perform this Step #3 with your eyes open, or closed — depending upon what you feel most comfortable with, and what you experience works best for you. I recommend a “with your eyes closed” approach here, as this enables you to concentrate better, and project richer and clearer images. Experiment to determine which way works best for you. ]

    Step 4: Whole Of You In The NOW Execution

    Next, let your eyelids open (if you performed Step #3 with your eyelids closed), visually momentarily focus upon your outcome point. Take 1-2 practice strokes, set up to your ball…and then go!

    This entire Step 1-4 process should take 15-18 total seconds to perform - hardly a high price to request, or to pay, for salvaging shots you’d have otherwise allowed to be wasted by lingering negative focus due to an unexpected poor shot outcome.

    And, the more you perform this process, the more effective you’ll become with it. You’ll be able to effectively perform it to release negative immediate past shots within 9-12 seconds the more you practice and use it.

    This process works, and it works profoundly when applied as outlined. I’ve taught it to many golf clients (including PGA/LPGA pros), and they all enjoy the solid, positive results it affords them.

    What has happened, has happened; you can’t undo it. What will happen, is an extension of what you think, feel, and do…now!

    Stop the lingering stench of a negative immediate past shot you’ve played (i. e. , mis-played) from invading your immediate current potential for success and efficiency. Use this Step #1-4 re-zone process, and ensure you keep the whole of you current, with every shot you play!

    Powerhouse self-help author, life transformation seminar leader, private clinician, and national TV therapist, Pete Siegel is the country’s foremost sports and peak performance hypnotherapist. He is also a member of Golf Digest's Top 25 Mental Practitioners list. You can review his PowerMind© national best selling life and mega-success building programs, including Building Super Confidence, Success Mind-Sets, Super Mental Toughness For Golf, Bringing Forth The Zone (golf), Living Invincibly Positive, and Winning At Life, at http://www.incrediblechange.com

  • (2009)

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