Golf Psychology - Golf's Mental Game and the Inner Chimp
Next up in the GLT Golf Psychology series, we examine the process of quieting the inner chimp, and how it applies to the mental game of golf.
Have you ever been driving near a red light or stop sign and instinctively slowed down, without even realizing what you were doing until you were stopped? Or, perhaps you get nervous when standing on a high balcony or near a bridge? Don’t worry, we aren’t going to attempt to diagnose you or tell you these are symptoms of some horrible disease. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Each of the above scenarios describe how, as humans, our brains are wired to detect and react to stress and danger. It is an evolutionary advancement that probably began shortly after the first caveman attempted to play tag with a mammoth. Thanks to Hirsute Harry’s sacrifice, over thousands of years, we’ve developed this trait, and while it keeps us safe during our daily lives, on the golf course, it creates a mammoth problem of its own.
Luckily for us, overcoming the effects of this evolutionary reaction – what Team GLT likes to refer to as The Inner Chimp – is something that can be taught. We’ll go into detail over how to silence the chimp at a later date, but for now, let’s discuss how it works.
In short, what that “Chimp” is doing is activating a physical response to an outside condition – a stress. As with all outside stresses, certain physical adjustments happen whether we like it or not, an increased heartrate, sweating, the tightening of muscles, etc. What we must do as golfers, and what we specialize in teaching at GLT, is train in a manner that makes the stress faced during competition feel routine, in other words, make the training Game Like.
If we can learn to silence the Chimp by controlling triggers and becoming acclimated to the changes that occur, we can evolve beyond our troglodyte instincts and gain a significant advantage in our battle with golf’s mental game.
To see how you can further develop your mental golf game, follow along as Team GLT continues to dive deeper into golf’s mental game, and be sure to check out the first article in the series, What Is Golf’s Mental Game? Next in the series, we’ll examine the importance and interconnectivity of our thoughts, feelings and intentions, and how it relates to golf’s mental game.