5 Tips To Improve Your Focus on the Course

Watching successful golfers play a great round makes one thing clear: they’re very focused professional athletes. Sure, some might be naturally good at focusing and directing their energy, but others have had to work hard to develop this skill.

We wanted to share some ways we have found worked for us when we try to improve our focus on the course.

What Happens When You Focus

Whenever you decide you’re going to focus on a task, there are two steps your brain takes:

  • You start by looking around and observing your surroundings – you’re trying to figure out what information is important and which isn’t.
  • The second step is ‘zooming in’ – this is where you start to ignore the unimportant pieces of information that are surrounding you and start paying attention to what matters.

The act of eliminating unimportant information and ‘zooming in’ on only what’s important sounds easy, but can actually be quite difficult. There are ways to supercharge your focus and that’s what we want to share with you.

Here are five things you can do to improve your focus on the course.

1. Get Regular Exercise

running

We’re not saying that you need to get out and get ripped or run a marathon, but there’s a lot of research that shows exercising two or three hours before a key engagement or activity improves your performance.

Exercise helps improve blood flow and the release of certain proteins – Dr. John Ratey, author of “Spark – The Revolutionary NewScience of Exercise and the Brain” calls it Miracle Gro for your brain.

So, before your next round take a walk around the block, hop on a treadmill for a bit or lift some light weights.

2. Don’t Be Afraid To Try Something Unconventional – Try Yoga

Yoga-Astavakrasana

It turns out that yoga may actually help improve your focus, as well as your physical well-being. Yoga is part exercise, part breathing routine, and part meditation.

A 2012 study concluded, “It appears that following yoga practice, the participants were better able to focus their mental resources, process information quickly, more accurately and also learn, hold and update pieces of information more effectively than after performing an aerobic exercise bout.”

We want to be clear: we’re not saying you should wear Lululemon on the course or drop into a downward facing dog pose on the ninth hole. Instead, try it at home or in a studio with the help of a professional. We’re willing to bet you’ll see some results.

3. Eat Right

avocado

First, exercise and then stretching and yoga. What next? Yes, I’m going to suggest that eating certain superfoods will help, too.

Certain foods can boost your cognitive functions, which help with your concentration and focus. The opposite is also true: a diet high in saturated fat actually caused damage to neurons.

Here are some of my favorite foods that can help boost mental performance:

  • Dark chocolate: Caffeine and antioxidants help improve blood flow.
  • Avocados: These contain monounsaturated fats, fats that actually improve your circulatory health.
  • Water: Rehydrating helps the brain perform more effectively – drink lots on a hot day on the course.
  • Spinach: Contains the antioxidant lutein, something that fights cognitive decline.

4. Develop A Routine

routine

Great golfers have great, consistent routines. Phil Mickelson has an awesome routine – it doesn’t change, he doesn’t waver, and he uses it to calm his emotions and nerves.

Routines are an established pattern of behavior that help you block out distractions. This is why you sometimes forget how you arrived when you drove home late one night – you do it so often that it’s become routine. Imagine if you could do the same thing on the golf course?

You see a lot of golfers with a routine because that established pattern of behavior can help you block out distractions. While I love Phil’s routine, take a second to watch your favorite golfer and try to decode pre-swing ritual.

5. Be Aware Of Your Mental Processes

neuron

Routines are a great way to help you become aware of your mental process. When you’re teeing off or prepping for a shot, you need to focus on your game, but also be aware of your train of thought. When you notice you’re getting distracted, figure out why. Your golf game will improve if you’re able to limit those mental lapses.

“To avoid distractions it’s helpful to get into the habit of stopping the wrong behaviors early, quickly, and often, well before they take over,” notes Psychology Today. “The best way to do that is to practice being aware of your own thoughts, by activating your observer function. How do you do that, when you have a ton of information pouring through your head as you process a hundred emails in the morning? The answer is clear: you can’t. If you want to do deeper thinking work, don’t start your day overwhelming and exhausting your brain.”

These simple steps could lead to some dramatic improvements in your concentration out on the course. Start focusing like the pros, and see how your game improves.

What have you done to improve your focus on the course? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Stay in the loop with Off The Deck

We're on a mission to grow the game of golf! Get our newsletter for daily updates