2020-Elite golfers share secrets of success

Elite golfers share secrets of success to help budding sports stars

Tue, 24 Mar 2020 09:45:00 GMT

Elite golfers have shared their top tips on how to control concentration in a new psychology study by GCU researchers which will help budding sports stars around the world boost their performance.

Eight of Scotland's top male players have revealed the secrets of their success and what goes on in their minds before and after that big shot during professional competitions.

In the first study of its kind in Scotland, lead researcher Alex Oliver, a sport and exercise PhD student in the University's Psychology Department, looked at how golfers control their attention, which is vital for successful skill execution.

Alex said his research "helps us understand what concentration looks like in sport and what golfers need to do to concentrate".

They all use mental tricks to concentrate and stop bad shots having a negative impact on their score. Tiger Woods has adopted a 10-step psychology routine - anytime he hits a bad shot, he's trained his mind to forget about it 10 steps down the fairway.

The research, published in The Sport Psychologist journal, gives us a unique insight into the pre and post-shot techniques used by some of the country's best golfers to improve mental focus which can now be used to help other sports enthusiasts perfect their game.

‚ÄčThe study, entitled 'A Grounded Theory of Meta-Attention Among Golfers', used a philosophical Straussian theory approach to understand how concentration works and analysed life-story interviews with elite golfers using psychological coding. Meta-attention is an awareness of the factors that influence an individual's attention. The research "provides an understanding of the function of meta-attention in golf performance that can be used by golfers, coaches, or psychologists to improve attentional strategies".

Alex said: "The study gives us a better understanding how controlling your concentration is important to performance, what concentration looks like.

"This could help men and women involved in sports that are intermittent like golf and snooker improve their performance. The concentration techniques used by the best golfers can be adapted to help other sportspeople become more professional. They are tried and tested and we know what actually works. We now have a greater understanding of the psychology behind it all."

His advice to sportspeople looking to boost performance would be: "Don't force it because that's when your performance can unravel. If you're a budding golfer you're probably already working with a psychologist and your coach.

"Establish your pre-shot routine and post-shot routine. This is one of the few pieces of research that has been done on the pre and post-shot routine, especially in an intermittent sport like golf because that's where every evaluation of the shot takes place. If you do have a negative evaluation of a shot, just after a few moments switch off and think about anything other than golf.

"Tiger Woods has a 10-step rule and the golfers I spoke to all had that box where they have their evaluation and when they step out of that box their mind is elsewhere and on anything other than golf.

"Just as they begin to approach a ball or get sight of a ball, that's when they will begin to evaluate the situation around them and what the shot will require. That's when evaluation and pre-shot routine comes in and they are ready to hit the ball."