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Stop "Should-ing" on Yourself

We all know golf parallels life. It’s up’s and downs are a perfect

correlation to the joy and tribulation found in each of our journeys. Perhaps you’re a fan of self-help books or if you’re like me your “self-help” comes through inward reflection and more importantly having the space and time to do so. This blog is going to walk you through how to clear your brain, find peace and play your best golf! Because after all, good golf cures just about everything.

I recently taught a two-day camp for high school golfers preparing to qualify for their high school golf teams. After we dialed in their short games and talked about course management we headed into the air conditioning to discuss the mental game portion of golf. What came next was very interesting. We went around the table explaining to the group where we each stood in terms of our mental game on the course. Each player said, “I need to improve my mental game”.

The concept of improving our mental game is like putting on lotion after washing our hands. It can be refreshing, but what is the point of putting on lotion just one time? If you want soft skin it will take effort and care or some legit genetics. Often I’ll say, “Man, my skin feels dry” and what do I do? Most of the time I do nothing because I’m a man and I don’t wear lotion. Only slightly kidding. As a Performance Coach I hear, so frequently, golfers say how they want to improve their mental games yet do nothing to improve. Improving one’s mental game is a process that includes; conscious decision making, accountability and a whole lot of self-awareness.

If you have ever caught yourself saying “I want to improve my mental game” then keep reading. If you haven’t, write a book and I will buy it because you must be a prodigy.

“I want to get in shape.”

“I want to break 80”

“I want to make better choices.”

“I want to do better at my job.”

“I want to…___________”

The list of common desires in our society could go on and on. Maybe some of them sound familiar to you? Take this with a grain of salt. Shut up. Stop. Take a breath. Relax. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with “want to” and “should” statements. As my dad says… “Stop should-ing on yourself!”

If you want to improve at something you MUST make a dedicated decision to go after it! If you want to get better at golf and more specifically have a stronger mental game, then do it! Stop saying you want to get better and then avoid putting in the work. This puts you at a crossroad. Either you make the decision to improve or you stop saying you want to improve. If you’ve read this far then I know you want to improve. Okay, here we go.

Provided by the Center for Sport Psychology

The above model can be applied directly to life. Think about it. Now, before we apply it to golf, PAUSE.

I know for a fact to many of you this sounds soft, wishy washy, fluffy, whatever weak term you want to come up with. Most parents tell me this model is great, yet I’m not confident the parents themselves buy into it. Now, you have another decision to make. Immediately. Whether the above model is true or not, you must decide whether or not you are going to use it. Starting now. Self-talk creeps into our minds so quickly and sub consciously. On the golf course self-talk is so often negative with dashes of positivity thrown in. Think about what this does to your own self-image on the course. Your self-image can 100% determine the outcome of your shot. The outcome of your shot determines your self-talk. You get the point.

That group of high school students sitting around the table had to face their truth. They had to decide if they were “good enough” to make their varsity golf team. They have to decide that before they tee off, not after the round is done. They had to decide if they were going to sip the Kool-aide or if they were going to drink the whole thing? Drinking the whole things means making yourself vulnerable. It means displaying confidence when you aren’t sure you can do it. It means believing you can break 80 even if last time you shot 92. After all, what quality could be more important to a high schooler let alone an adult?

Do you want to be the best golfer at your club?

Do you want to win your next golf tournament?

Do you want to get to a single digit handicap?

Do want to shoot under par?

Hold on to what you want! Make the decision to chase it and to put in the work!

Leighton’s three tips for starting the journey towards better golf.

Conscious Decision Making



I’ll let you dwell on this and what it means for you. If you want to talk it out and play better golf email me! We’ll set up a playing lesson!

Don’t Should on yourself!!

Leighton Smith, PGA

Copyright 2018


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