If you watch today’s leading Tour Players when they are out on the golf course, you will notice that they all have the ability to focus really well on the target.
Focusing well on the target means a player is able to block out all distractions and concentrate solely on the job in hand - how to successfully hit the ball to the target.
To be able to focus well on the target we need to consider what is important and will help us to achieve this. Good golfers use a pre-shot routine before they hit the ball to help them focus, or concentrate, on getting the ball to the target. This routine they carry out over and over again, in exactly the same way prior to hitting every golf shot.
Before we consider exactly what will help us to achieve focus and what will just distract us from this we are going to create three areas before the golf ball, so place two alignment poles or clubs on to the floor. The area furthest away from the ball is the Thinking Zone. In this area the golfer requires a wide focus to be able to consider many different pieces of relevant information for the task in hand. Relevant information for a golfer to be successful starts with deciding what shot to play. Look at where you want to land the ball, are you playing directly for the target or playing so that the slopes and contours will take your ball into your target. Work out the yardage of the shot and decide which club will provide you with this. Now consider the wind, is there any, how will it affect the shot, do you need more club if you are playing straight into it or less if the wind is with you? Now consider the slope the ball is on, how will this affect the flight? An upslope will need more club, a downslope less. Finally, what is your lie like? Is the ball sitting up well on the grass allowing you a good contact, or is it nestled down? How will this affect the ball flight, will it fly lower than usual and then run on more?
Once you have considered all of this information and made a decision on the shot that you are going to play to the target and which club you are going to use for this, you now need to move into the second zone, the Feel Zone. In this zone you need to be making a swing that you feel will allow the ball to travel to your target. Whilst making your practice swing, focus on the speed that you are moving the club at, the contact you feel you would have achieved, where you think you would have hit the ball to. Your concentration is becoming more focused on to fewer things.
After making your practice swings and getting a feel for the swing to use, you are now ready to enter the Play Zone. Whilst still in the Feel Zone, position yourself to look directly over the ball to the target. Imagine a line back from the target to the ball and select a spot on this line about two inches in front of the ball. Now walk into the Play Zone. Align the club face so that it is aiming at the spot that you have selected to hit the ball over towards the target. Take a good grip and work on aligning your feet correctly. Place your feet together and parallel to the grooves on your club face. Once you are happy with this, take your stance with your feet shoulder width apart and the correct ball position for the club. Have another look at your target, then follow the line back down to the spot on the ball and then play your shot.
Throughout the three zones also work on staying relaxed and confident by taking nice deep breaths and using positive self talk, telling yourself you can make the shot.
Having a good pre-shot routine will help you to concentrate on relevant and useful information and therefore allow you to successfully focus on the target and at the same time block out any distractions, anxiety or doubt. Work on this on the range and then take it out on to the golf course. Your game will improve and it will also improve your accuracy and enjoyment when out playing.