Brain Game: Dr. Bob Winters shows how to make your best shot off the 1st tee

Brain Game: Dr. Bob Winters shows how to make your best shot off the 1st tee

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Brain Game: Dr. Bob Winters shows how to make your best shot off the 1st tee

Dr. Bob Winters is an internationally renowned sport psychologist who works with champion golfers around the world. Contact him at www.drbobwinters.com.

 

Legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus once said the opening tee shot is one of the most critical in golf because it sets up the entire round. For a lot of golfers, it is the make or break point of the entire day. If the first ball is hit well, the golfer is in a great mental state. If it’s hit poorly, the player is done.

Why is that?

One problem is players hold high expectations and feelings of performance pressure long before they step onto the first tee box. I am sure Tiger Woods felt a bit of trepidation when he teed it up for the first time in 15 months at the Hero World Challenge in December. No matter what a player’s golfing talent may be, no one is immune to the feelings of the first-tee jitters.

Preparing for the opening tee shot is vital for creating the proper mindset and mood for the day – perhaps even an entire tournament. Here is a 60-second strategy to help you be more confident in getting off to a good start.


The first 10 seconds:

Give yourself permission
The most important thing before you head to the first tee is to give yourself permission to play your own game. As you walk to the tee box, tell yourself that no matter what happens, “Today is my day, and nothing is going to stop me from playing the way I want to play.”

Your first priority is to give yourself the emotional freedom to simply play golf and enjoy whatever happens.


Seconds 11-20:

Forget about others
The moment you step onto the tee, you must detach yourself from everyone around you. Actually, no one really cares what you do – or don’t do – on the tee box. Detaching yourself from others and not worrying about what they think of your game is one of the major steps to playing well in tournaments, and also to playing to your ability level.

Don’t give your power away to others just because they are watching you. Forget about them and focus on the task of the upcoming shot.


Seconds 21-30:

Create a safe area
When you step onto the first tee, create a “safe area.” This mentality permits you to visually focus only on your target (out into the fairway) and not allow your thoughts and eyes to drift back into the crowd milling about on the first tee.

This strategy keeps you task-focused on the upcoming shot and not worried about what other players may be doing or saying.


Seconds 31-40:

Making a clear decision
Before you put your peg in the ground, you must create an informed decision about what type of shot you will hit. This can be done quickly sometimes or with much deliberation, but the fact remains, decisiveness is equal to creating confidence.
The more decisive you are in your shot and club choice, the better chance you have of hitting a great shot.


Seconds 41-50:

Create a specific rehearsal swing
After seeing the type of shot you want to hit, you now create a specific feel to integrate that visual signal to a physical production. What this means is that you must “pre-set” a feel or sequence of motion that helps to grease the wheel for your upcoming shot.

By pre-programming the correct movement in your active rehearsal swing, all that is left is to step up and replay that same movement without conscious effort or thought. The actual swing is merely a reflexive effort versus one that is forced or overly manipulated.


Seconds 51-60:

Commit to your target and swing
These 10 seconds are about commitment. After you have committed yourself to the shape and flight of the ball, you step to your ball and align your club and body to your target. During these last few seconds, there is very little active thinking. This is an automatic process.

After you step over your “trust line” and align yourself to the ball and target, you simply take a last look and come back to the ball and swing to your target. The more assured you are stepping into your shot, the more “movement confidence” you will have swinging your club to the target.


Post 60 Seconds:

Accept the shot
Acceptance is the final part of every shot – good or bad – and any particular shot is not over until you place closure on it. When you are able to accept your result and move on to the next, you are truly becoming a player of the game.

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