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One of the things that plague many golfers and students of the game, are mental thoughts that betray them. There are several issues a lot of people may have, including lack of concentration, lack of confidence, and anxiety. With the proliferation the past couple of decades of sport psychologists, or mental coaches, we have a wealth of knowledge and research that shows us how to best optimize our mental games.

Dr. Gregg Steinberg has been the USGTF’s sport psychology consultant since his days as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Florida. Steinberg has had three books published (including Mental Rules for Teaching Golf, available through the USGTF Pro Shop), with a fourth on the way. He has also appeared on numerous national television and radio programs, and is often quoted in magazines and newspapers. Furthermore, he has worked with many professional athletes and countless amateur athletes.

A lot of mental problems boil down to one word – negativity. Golfers who lack confidence, concentration, or suffer from anxiety are most definitely in a negative mind state. Steinberg came up with a clever way of helping golfers overcome negative thinking a number of years ago. The fix involves a simple piece of equipment – a rubber band.

Most golfers who miss shots due to negative thinking are aware before the shot that they aren’t in the proper frame of mind to hit the shot, but they go ahead and strike the ball, anyway. Such golfers don’t have a way of dealing with the negativity that pervades their minds.

Golfers who suffer from negative thinking during their pre-shot routines should wear a rubber band around their wrist. At any time during their pre-shot routine, all the way up to taking the club back, if a golfer has a negative thought, he or she is to immediately stop their routine, snap themselves with the rubber band, and then consciously replace the negative thought or feeling with a positive one.

Steinberg points out that mental practice is just like physical practice – it takes time to make a change. The key with the rubber band technique is consistency. The player should always stop their pre-shot routine if there is any negativity involved, and snap themselves with their rubber band. It should not be a case of, “Well, yes, I have some negative thoughts right now, but I don’t feel like snapping myself this time.”

The first round someone plays golf with the rubber band around their wrist, they may find themselves snapping it as many as several dozen times! They may also find the negative thoughts not wanting to leave. That’s okay – again, it takes time to make a change. Eventually, after a certain number of rounds (the number will vary for each individual, but 10-20 rounds is usually enough), the player will find himself or herself snapping the rubber band only a few times. At this point, the player can be confident that their mental game has definitely gone to a higher level, and they should find the game more fun and enjoyable.

If you or your students suffer from negative thinking, snap to it!.

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