What’s 386 x 23? Building a Better Game Through Neuroscience

Playing golf when you are nervous, panicked, angry, frustrated, or afraid most often leads to poor performance. The amygdala [uh-mig-duh-luh] is the part of the emotional center of the brain and is responsible for attaching these negative emotions to your perceptions. When the amygdala is active, your muscles tense, your respiratory rate quickens, and your thinking becomes irrational and impulsive. All of these things are counterproductive to a well-planned and executed golf shot. One way to deactivate the amygdala is to engage your prefrontal cortex; the part of your brain responsible for problem solving and slow, deliberate rational thinking. When the prefrontal cortex is engaged, the influence of the amygdala on our behavior is tempered.  A simple way to do this is to give the prefrontal cortex something to do. The next time you are upset on the golf course (or anywhere for that matter), and your emotions are interfering with your play, pause for a moment and try solving a math problem in your head (e.g. 386 x 23). The intention is not to get the correct answer; rather the goal is to dampen the interference caused by the amygdala by engaging the rational part of your mind helping to create a mindset more conducive to peak performance and effective golf shots. 

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