Have you ever heard someone say, “He had a great round today, he was really focused?” When a professional is playing very well, the adjective that is often used to describe his mental state is “focused.” What does it mean to say that someone is focused? Focus is defined as “a point at which rays of light appear to diverge, or the clarity of an image rendered by an optical system.” Of all our different senses, focus is associated mostly with sight or the eyes. It is the ability of our eyes to zoom in on an object, or, in the case of golf, the target. For example, look at an object such as a book. Focus on the book. Now focus on the book with an increase in intensity. Next, focus on the book with an even higher increase in energy. Notice what happens when you increase your intensity. You get more absorbed into the object, and you may notice more details. The energy from your eyes to the object increases with greater fervour and all the other senses move to the background as you eyes become primary. The more you see with your eyes, the less you think with your brain. Let me repeat this truth, the more you see with your eyes, the less you think with your brain.
We know from a variety of studies that athletes performing at a high level have very little chatter in their brain, and their focus is extremely high. What happens when you are nervous or struggling on the golf course? Often you begin to increase the self talk and thinking, while decreasing the energy available for focusing. In an attempt to think through the struggle on the course, one often makes the problem worst by increasing the thinking, and diminishing the focus. I am not saying that thinking is bad,I am simply saying that lots of thinking during actual performance is usually detrimental.
How can you increase focus during performance? Play golf with your eyes. Visualize outside of yourself, at the target. For example, when you are on the tee box, setting up to drive the ball, pick a specific target. Pick another object slightly to the left and one slightly to the right of the target and imagine that it creates an alley or tunnel to your target. Tell yourself that the tunnel is the boundaries that your drive will stay within as the ball flies to the target. By creating all these unique visual images with your eyes, you are getting obsessed with your target, and the chatter of your mind is receding to the background. Another way of increasing you focus is the exercise above. Perhaps your target is the flag, 115 metres away. Focus on the flag, focus more intently, perhaps seeing the different colours of the pin, and focus even more intently, seeing the metal rod that secures the flag. As you increase the intensity, you get absorbed into your target, you connect with the target, and you provide a clear image for you body to aim.
Remember that focus has very little to do with thinking, and a lot to do with seeing. When you want to perform at a higher level, crank up the intensity of your eyes, and perhaps people will say about you, “He was really focused today.”