Improve your game by maintaining your focus

Do you have good focus on the front nine only to fall apart on the back nine? Splitting your round into two halves is a natural tendency in golf but not the best way to focus.

Do not add up your score after nine holes. Instead, I suggest dividing your round into three-hole segments prior to teeing off. You can pencil in your target goals ahead on time on your scorecard. Now you need to focus on only three holes. (See picture.)

No one can concentrate for four to five hours. You need to learn how to relax between shots and be ready to focus prior to each shot. In between shots you need your brain to "switch off." Stay away from negative self-talk.

Have a short memory and put bad shots out of your mind after you hit them. These things consume mental energy and take away from your focus during shots.

Once you reach your ball, you need a "trigger" to turn your focus back on. A good pre-shot routine will help you get back into focus.

When you reach your ball ask yourself the following questions. How is my lie? Are there any obstacles such as trees, bunkers or water in my way? What is my target and the distance needed to reach my target? What club do I need to execute this shot?

Visualize the shot you want to make. Verbalizing your shot like you are talking to a caddy also helps. Thus, visualizing and verbalizing helps your brain to stimulate the muscles needed to execute the actual shot. Once over the ball, just think about "target."

Your physical condition can also cause you to lose focus. First and foremost, you need sleep. Your ideal sleep time is unique to you. Most physicians recommend seven or eight hours of sleep per night.

Next is hydration. You need to drink water prior to teeing off and hydrate with water every hole. Water keeps your muscles and brain hydrated. The more you sweat, the more water you need.

Filling up on soda, beer and sport drinks can have a negative impact on energy and concentration.

Nutrition is vital on the golf course. Stay away from hot dogs and candy bars on the course.

You need food that will give you more energy and help you maintain your focus. Fruits such as apples, oranges and watermelon can give you enough sugar to give you a boost. Bananas give you potassium to keep your muscles from cramping.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will give you a boost of energy and stamina. Nuts such as walnuts, almonds and pecans are good to eat on the course. Be sure to eat something every three to four holes for optimum focus.

In order to maintain your focus, you need to work on your mental preparation and the physical aspects needed to succeed.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at Brown Golf Management courses. jean.golfdoctor.harris @gmail.com; www.golfdoctorjean.com


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