Today’s post is a guest post by Andrew Best, Co-Founder and head of R&D for 88Herbs, a premium nutraceutical company, on some lifestyle and supplement ways to improve your focus, and ultimately performance on the course…enjoy!
This post is meant to help you significantly improve your concentration and focus for the purpose of actually taking several strokes off your golf game. So please pay close attention, bookmark this page, and try to actually follow all the steps. You won’t regret it.
I was originally going to make a list of 25 ways to improve your mental focus, but many of the items are common sense, and I want to focus, no pun intended, on what is most important, and not distract you with fluff that everyone knows.
Before I dive in, let’s consider for a second why concentration is so essential for golf…
Golf is one of the few sports where silence is pretty much demanded. And it’s not simply because of “etiquette”, it’s because without silence, the game would be essentially ruined. It doesn’t matter how pretty looking your backswing is, you just can’t have someone yelling “whoop, whoop, whoop”, or “you stink”, while you are ready to take a swing! And even though your partners (hopefully) will grant you this silence, how often is it that the dancing monkey in your own mind starts playing tricks and causing you to shank or duff a shot? If you are like most people, the answer is FAR TOO OFTEN.
We need to be able to clear our conscious mind of all clutter and racing thoughts, and allow the rest of the mind to go into the zone, where conscious thoughts are suspended, and the unconscious mind just focuses on the physical task at hand – in this case, the perfect swing – for each and every shot.
Ok. But the question still remains, how exactly can I improve my ability to concentrate?
Steps to Improving Your Focus on the Course
Here is a list of 4 detailed steps to take, why they work, and how to apply them immediately:
1. The 8 Minute Mental Focus Exercise for Golf
- Get your phone out and set up the timer function for an 8 minute countdown. It will beep after the 8 minutes is up. Every phone has this function so don’t make an excuse that you can’t find a timer.
- Lie down on your back with your eyes closed. Make sure you are comfortable and make sure no one distracts you during this time.
- All you need to do is this: Picture a golf ball sitting on a tee. That’s it.
- Hold that image, and only that image, as clearly in your mind as you can for 8 minutes.
Don’t imagine hitting the ball. Don’t imagine any wind, any sounds, or anything else. Just visualize only the golf ball sitting there on the tee. Keep breathing slowly, deeply, and naturally. Keep your eyes closed. And just focus on the ball sitting on the tee. For 8 minutes. The alarm will let you know when time is up.
If you think this exercise sounds like meditation, it’s because it is. I wanted to call this by another name because the word “meditation” often rubs people the wrong way and sounds too “weird” or “new age”. I don’t want people to skip over this exercise. It’s actually fun to try. Do it now.
This exercise sounds easy, but I’m sure you’ll find it to be surprisingly difficult. And the more difficult it is for you, the better. Because that means you’ll benefit more from the practice, as it’s something you need to improve. And the more you practice this exercise, the better you will become at it. So no matter how “bad” you are at first, don’t get down on yourself and don’t judge. This is hard for everyone.
When your mind wanders, don’t judge where it goes or question it, just calmly bring it back to focusing on the ball on the tee.
There is a lot of science behind why this works to improve focus, but I don’t have time to get into it here. The point is, it really does work. And the ability to concentrate and direct your focus is an invaluable asset in golf.
The more you practice this, the better you will become at “quieting the mind”. If you went into an fMRI brain scanner during this mental focus task, you’d see that your brain activity would be rather quiet – which is exactly what you want for success on the golf course.
Try this every day for 30 days. You’ll notice your ability to focus on one thing with no distractions will translate positively into other areas of your life as well – not just for golf.
2. “L Theanine” with Coffee or Tea Before You “Tee-Off” to Increase Focus
Have you ever wondered why coffee makes you feel so much more “jittery” than green tea?
(Barefoot Golfer insert: mycotoxin contamination/content in coffee can also cause the jittery effect, but the below also holds true)
It’s not simply due to the higher caffeine content in coffee; it’s largely to do with a natural amino acid in tea called “L Theanine”. One cup of green tea contains only about 15-20 mg of l theanine, yet its effects can still be felt even in that dose.
L Theanine can be extracted and isolated. It is rapidly becoming more popular as a non-drowsy, fast acting natural supplement to improve mood and temporarily reduce anxiety. The doses in a good supplement are much higher and more effective than what you’d find from drinking green tea.
Many of our customers are golfers, and they have been reporting amazing experiences when taking our pharmaceutical grade l theanine.
They report that they are a lot calmer than usual, and that they play a more controlled yet carefree game. They aren’t “scared” to go for a putt or an iron shot. They feel confident to attempt the types of shots they know they really ought to be attempting instead of wimping out and leaving shots short. And far more often than not, they find they are actually making the shots they are taking!
This could be for a couple of reasons. One is that l theanine increases the effectiveness of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that reduces our needless worry, panic, and fear. We all know we play worse when we’re nervous, our minds are overactive and we just hit brutal shots when in this pathetic state of mind. The increased GABA from the l theanine takes away the fear and leaves us feeling calm and confident.
The second reason is that l theanine has also been shown to increase alpha brain wave activity. This is the same type of brain activity we see during deep meditation. So the l theanine seems to be able to put us into a single-focus state of mind, similar to when we’re meditating or when we’re “in the zone”. The needless random thoughts aren’t there to distract you.
Now here is the real kicker…
When l theanine is combined with caffeine, the results are even more amazing.
We still experience the reduced anxiety and the increased alpha brain waves when we take it with coffee or tea, but with the added caffeine, our ability to focus increases dramatically.
And you don’t need to take the l theanine together with coffee or tea if you prefer not to have caffeine for whatever personal reason – many people absolutely love the effects of l theanine on its own. But the combo is really something worth checking out.
Here’s some more info on l theanine – how it works, and what it’s for.
Full disclosure here: I am co-founder and director of R&D for 88Herbs, a premium nutraceutical company based in Ontario Canada. We sell an extremely high quality l theanine supplement. We have a growing number of customers who are loving our product for their golf game. Both the science and the personal experiences point to the same conclusion – namely, that high quality l theanine is a great natural supplement to use before you tee off. And it’s even more effective when you take it with coffee or tea because of the synergy with the caffeine. The l theanine and coffee combo will help you focus clearly on your golf game, while giving you a calm, confident, and smooth feeling – as opposed to caffeine alone, which tends to make people nervous and jittery.
3. Cell Phones and Other Distractions Reduce Focus – Seriously!
Although it may seem like a cool invention that you can check your email or your stocks from the golf course, it’s a horrible idea for your golf game.
People tend to dramatically overestimate their ability to multi-task. They believe that since they can do two things at the same time, they are probably doing them both well. This is not the case at all.
And no matter what you tell yourself, you are actually like everyone else – horrible at multitasking.
Think of how your computer runs when you have a bunch of programs running in the background and several windows open simultaneously. It’s slow, buggy, and brutal. Well, that’s pretty much how your brain works too.
So even if you tell yourself that the work email you just read from your boss or the text you got from your wife isn’t “bothering” you, it’s still causing your brain to spend extra energy on this information while processing it in the background. And that extra energy is leaving your brain less ‘horsepower’ to spend on hitting the perfect golf shot.
So actually turn off your phone before you go out on your round, and preferably, leave your phone in the car so you aren’t even tempted by it.
(Barefoot Golfer insert: So true! This is one of the major drawbacks to a cell phone based GPS program. I now suggest using a laser range finder)
And the further back you extend this process, the better. So for instance, you’ll be able to concentrate even better if you don’t even check your email or click around on news sites before you leave the house. Give your brain less information to process. Your score card will thank you for this.
4. Sleep Better – Eat Better
Ok, this is the most obvious one, but it’s important to point out.
The ability to concentrate takes significant mental energy. Just like you don’t want to have information from the “outside world”, like emails and text messages, distracting you and competing for your attention, you also don’t want to have distractions from inside your body.
If you are hungry, sleepy, or you need to go to the bathroom, your body will send many signals to your brain; this will wreak havoc on your concentration. No matter how hard you try, it’s too difficult to concentrate perfectly on your golf shot when voices in your head are saying “I’m so tired”, “why didn’t’t I eat before I played”, “I think there’s got to be a bathroom around here somewhere”, or “that double cheeseburger I just wolfed down was a pitiful idea”.
As I said before, this is obvious, but it’s also worth mentioning because so many people forget to apply this one. If you are well-rested, don’t need to use the washroom, and you are neither hungry nor full, your mind will have many more reserves to use on your golf game.
In summary, 4 keys to Dramatically Sharpening your Mental Focus:
- Do the 8 minute golf ball on a tee meditation (above)
- Try our amazing pharmaceutical grade L Theanine – take it alone or with your coffee or tea. We think you’ll love this one.
- Avoid all phones and distractions from the “outside world”. No texts, no emails!
- Avoid distracting messages from your body’s internal environment. Sleep well, eat well, and make sure to use the washroom before you golf.
Note** If you have trouble sleeping, you may really like our blockbuster all-natural herbal sleep aid – Sleep-X. It works fast and it works well.
Andrew Best is Co-Founder and head of R&D for 88Herbs, a premium nutraceutical company based in Ontario Canada. They have a lot of fantastic products which could help you with your golf game and in life.
For more info, check out: www.88herbs.com