Concentration & The Task At Hand

As our GPC athletes compete on our annual spring trip to Florida, pressure will be alive and well. Coming off a winter of intensive technical and performance work, they will finally get a chance to see how their effort translated onto the course. Undoubtedly, along with tournament play comes tournament pressure. The ability to deal with pressure is a critical mental skill all of the best golfers possess and who better to learn how to deal with it from than one of the greats, Jack Nicklaus.
Arguably the greatest golfer of all-time, Nicklaus’s influence has permeated every aspect of the game. His insights into the mind always seem to hone in on important concepts critical to expert performance, and if anyone knows about expert performance, it’s Jack. In reference to competitive pressure, this is what Nicklaus said about how he handled it, “Concentration blocks out pressure. If you make mistakes and look for excuses, you lose your concentration and feel pressure. I try to keep from doing that.” Although he doesn’t explicitly define what concentration is, the implication is that concentration means focusing on those things that improve your chances of success while ignoring those things that decrease those chances. In particular, Nicklaus suggests that making excuses when things go wrong only serves to unfocus the golfer from the task at hand and increases feelings of pressure. 
Without having played an on-course round in months, I imagine our athletes will be prone to bouts of making mistakes and searching for excuses. This will most likely be the case for Northeasterners coming into the 2022 season. In order to avoid falling victim to the concentration trap Nicklaus describes above, I coach our athletes to focus on the primary objective in the game of golf: to get the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible. Ironically, within the culture of golf, and in particular the culture of golf coaching, it’s easy to lose sight of why we play and instead get tangled in technique and unrealistic expectations. So, as you head into these early rounds remember why you are out there to begin with. Importantly, even though the object of the game is clear, the quality of the experience is completely up to you. I have no doubt that by fully concentrating on the goal of getting the ball in hole in the fewest shots possible rather than getting caught up in mistakes, excuses, and expectations you will play better golf. Who knows, you might even enjoy yourself!