Mental Mastery Wins Masters

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Mental Mastery Wins Masters

During the post-round interview Adam Scott summed up one key tool to his win, it came from his mental toolbox…

“The thing I did quite well out there today was stay right where I was. Wherever I was on the golf course, I stayed in that one shot”

With the weight of an entire country vying for his conscience, Scott knocked in a 12-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole against Angel Cabrera to win the green jacket… not only for himself, but for the sporting nation called Australia.  It was a sweet victory, a long time coming for a country that saw Greg Norman come runner up three times.  That’s a lot to think about for a 32 year old.  So he chose not to think about that and instead stayed in the moment, present for every shot.  Brilliant!  Congratulations Adam Scott and kudos to Angel Cabrera, the ultimate sportsman.

So, the Masters is over, blink…sniff…You know what that means, though?  We are all super pumped to get out there ourselves for another fantastic season of golf.  My excitement is at an all-time high, ’cause I just ordered up my new TaylorMade Rocketballz woods, I am joining a fantastic team at Cowichan Golf & Country Club, led by Stormin’ Norm and I am two weeks away from being fully certified to teach in BC schools.  Yup, J2G has been grinding it out in University the past 4 months, hence the lack of blog.  However, here I am… I made it to the other side and feeling wiser for it.

On that note…the blog topic of the day is what I just happened to choose to investigate in an Action Research Inquiry, during my studies and what Adam Scott speaks to regarding his prestigious win at Augusta.

Fully Connected Focus: Be Here Now

My action research centered around an issue I am seeing amongst students; essentially I believe many students are easily distracted and therefore not in the present moment for learning and performing.

This led me into an investigative inquiry into this thing we call FOCUS.

Having been a professional coach for over twenty-two years now, I have come across the term focus quite a lot. In my own personal attempts at becoming an elite athlete, I believe that I engaged in this mysterious skill and it paved the way to moments of high-performance.  In fact, across a number of domains including sport psychology and education, focus has been acknowledged as a vital skill.  However, pinpointing a clear and concise description of the term “focus” is a seriously arduous task.  For the purpose of my query, it soon became apparent that a highly respected researcher at the University of Ottawa, had just the right description for my study.

In a recent article by one of his graduate students of Sport Psychology,  a scripted discussion outlines the concept of Fully Connected Focus (FCF) (Glynn, 2011).  As defined by Orlick, fully connected focus is:

A complete, positive connection with an experience, learning opportunity, performance, action or interaction.   It invokes a feeling of being totally absorbed in an experience or inseparable from it.

If we look at the opposite affect,  Orlick reports that disconnected focus does not allow you to learn what you can learn or perform to your best.  This latter statement is the exact reason behind my motivation to look into focus for performing, as I have personally witnessed many players as easily distracted and therefore not in engaged in the present moment.  For the sake of this blog, we will look at how to focus for athletic performance and more specifically, how to: “turn it on”,summon your “A game”… “GET IN THE ZONE”.

 

HOW TO GET IN THE ZONE

In order to be engaged fully in the moment, staying in one shot at a time, one must learn the mental skill of Fully Connected Focus.  Here is a summary on “how to”:

1.  The Ideal Performance State is “The Zone”

  •      you must practice building this via a consistent routine

2.  The routine has two parts:   Think Box and Play Box

3. Think Box

  • all the cognitive thinking processes involved in making a final decision for the shot
  • club choice, environmental factors (the lie, wind, dry/wet, etc.), target landing spot, desired flight, swing tempo, etc.
  • 30 – 40 secs

4.  Play Box

  • “play only”, no thinking allowed except for ONE FOCUS THOUGHT
  •  ONE FOCUS = choose one sensory cue only to think about (Visual, Auditory or Feel)
  •  4 – 10 secs

4.  You must be COMMITTED to your decision before you cross over from the Think Box to the Play Box

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