In the Summer Olympics the difference between the top woman running the 100 metres sprint final and the top woman running the 100 metres hurdles final is roughly 2 seconds. Why is there 2 seconds difference?
Its simple really; it's the distraction of jumping hurdles. It is the obstacles that get in the way and slow down the performance that separates the two over the same distance.
Just 2 seconds...The obstacles that get in your way affect your performance.
In golf the difference between the best amateur and professional golfers in a field is the number of strokes; and the difference between the number of strokes between a good golfer and a great golfer really gets down to the amount of distraction that is being noticed and managed.
Its how little distraction there is between the time you spend standing behind the ball where you are determining your strategy for playing the shot at hand, through to the execution of the stroke.
The time line is short--maybe 10 to 20 seconds in total, but what can happen within this small window of time virtually always determines the final outcome.
Here's Wikipedia's definition of distraction.
Distraction is the divided attention of an individual or group from the chosen object of attention onto the source of distraction. Distraction is caused by:
"I've always found that anything worth achieving will always have obstacles in the way and you've got to have that drive and determination to overcome those obstacles on route to whatever it is that you want to accomplish." - Chuck Norris
How is it that with such a short amount of time to hit a shot the majority of golfers do not or have not developed the ability to do it without some level of distraction? It seems strange that all we really have to do is aim our attention towards something for a few seconds, and yet most of us can't do it very well at all.
Or can we?...
Well, check out the following video closely and you'll notice that actually we can really aim our attention on something for a few seconds without distraction.
OK did you get the question right and count the correct amount of times the players in white passed the basketball to each other?
Did you also happen to see the gorilla? You would be surprised how many people watching this video don't see the gorilla. Good focusing ability right?
Now imagine for a moment that you could control your attention to the degree that you could hit most of your shots without getting distracted by internal or external interference?
Wouldn't that be an advantage? You bet it would.
Well you can, and you do very often. That's right, many times in a day you are able to focus your attention on something without being distracted.
Now what if you couldn't catch a basketball as confidently as they did in the video?
I'm sure you would agree that instead of catching the basketball you would be thinking about actually trying to catch the basketball, which is definitely not the same thing?
You would be distracted because you lacked competence and confidence in this task.
How to Build a Bullet Proof Pre-Shot Routine
Much of the distraction you face when you try to play golf shots successfully relates to attempting to play strokes that you are not at a high level of competence with.
If you are standing over a shot and attempting to play a shot that you cannot comfortably play 7 times out of 10 or better, then there's a strong likelihood that you will get distracted with thoughts of the shot not coming off as planned.
This is one of the main forms of distraction with advanced and elite golfers in our experience.
At Pro Tour Golf College our students learn a simple equation to help them understand the process that leads to more focus and less distraction.
P = R - D (Performance Equals Routine Minus Distraction)
In other words, you can increase your performance potential by improving the simplicity and consistency of your pre-shot routine and consequently reduce distraction.
When you make your pre-shot routine simple, and you practice it over and over, distraction reduces.
How Do You Do it?
When you practice improving your golf skills take the opportunity to practice each shot as if its the only shot you have. Yes it is true that you have to repeat strokes many times over to habituate the learning process, but you also must understand that you need to use a simple and effective pre-shot routine on every shot you hit to a target.
There's much confusion with advanced and elite golfers who practice a lot but spend more time practicing shots without a pre-shot routine, and then they wonder why when they are on the course they get distracted easily.
If you hit 5,000 golf shots in practice over a year and 80 percent of them (or higher) were hit with no pre-shot routine, then you will understand that just a small percentage were actually hit with the routine that you would want to use on the course.
In other words much of the practice would not be beneficial for improving your ability to generate a consistent routine that would increase your focus when hitting shots without being distracted.
Here's a simple rule to remember...
If there's a target in your focus, then there must be a pre-shot routine as well.
Study the video above and I will take you step-by-step through the architecture of a pre-shot routine that you can easily to learn to do.
Now practice the pre-shot routine often because I guarantee you that it will help you to hit shots confidently and competently under any kind of pressure a lot more often.
We hope you enjoyed this article and if you found value in it why don't you share it with your friends.
See you next time.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
The Professional Golf Tour Training College