Finally, the last of the STOMP concepts, preparation. It seems as though preparation is what holds all of the other concepts together. Preparation should be a big part of what we do throughout the course of our day. But what really happens is that people go throughout the course of a day in a routine. They do not prepare for anything; rather they just get through the day. Preparation among golfers is similar. Golfers tend to go through the motions and not prepare for a tournament or competitive setting. Preparation from a psychological perspective is imperative to performing your best.

When I see golfers prepare I wonder if we, as people, are losing touch with…our own touch. For example, the amounts of data people are using to prepare their golf game is staggering. There are countless pieces of technology that tell us so many things about our golf swing, golf game, and overall ability that one could make the argument we are losing touch with our natural ability. However, I will acknowledge that technology does work. Bryson DeChambeau has had a lot of success using hard data to improve his golf game. It is fair to say he is an elite golfer among the golfing population.

But what about pros like Bubba Watson, the late Seve Ballesteros, and Lexi Thompson? They all swing their swing and trust the preparation they put into their game. It is so easy to get caught up in the technology piece of preparation. It is also the easy way to prepare. Preparing psychologically takes work, hours of dedication, and mind-numbing efforts. In order to prepare psychologically, you need to step out of your comfort zone and practice like it is a competition.

Let’s not rule out technology completely. I am only arguing that we use it to enhance our natural ability and not let it take over our game completely. Now let’s get to the psychological aspects of preparation. During a practice session focus on what you are doing mentally. If you are not doing anything mentally, then I recommend starting with optimism. Tell yourself you are going to do one thing well in your practice session and focus on that one concept.

However, if you have a mental routine (or want to develop one), then we can dive a little deeper. Combine a mental routine with your pre-shot routine. I highly recommend visualization and positive self-talk. Further, positive self-talk should be a trigger word. A trigger word is something you say to yourself that indicates the start of a routine. It gets you focused on the task at hand and dare I say even puts you in the zone. Think of a word that is significant to you and say it to yourself. Then start your visualization of the shot you want to hit while performing your physical pre-shot routine. When you do this enough times, it will become automatic. So how many times is enough? Well, this is where it gets difficult. Research indicates about 10,000 repetitions will engrain a new concept. This is why getting better takes time and is not a quick fix.

So where do you start? Start with one bucket of balls on the range. Go through a pre-shot routine combined with a mental routine for each ball in the bucket. If you have never done this before you will be exhausted by the time the bucket is empty. This is also time-consuming. But you will have stepped out of your comfort zone, and yes, that tired feeling means you improved. Do the same thing when practicing your short game. Before every putt, chip, or pitch go through a pre-shot routine combined with a mental routine and execute the shot. Your practice session will slow down in terms of how many balls you hit, but your practice quality will improve significantly.

Prepare for your competitive and anxious moments physically and psychologically. Throughout this series, I hope you gained a better understanding of how the mind and body work together. If you are one of those golfers who are in love with technology then, by all means, keep using it. However, we as people have an incredible piece of technology that is unmatched, our brain. Use what you have and rely on your touch, your feel, and your instincts. This is what you are armed with when you play golf so why not improve them to point where they work for you rather than against you? Lastly, if there is anything that I can do for any of you who read my articles, please contact me. I would be glad to assist you with the psychological aspects of golf, life, and competitive situations.