Psychological Hallmarks of Skilled Golfers

Author: Hellström, John

Source: Sports Medicine, 1 October 2009, vol. 39, no. 10, pp. 845-855(11)


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In this article, the psychological hallmarks of skilled golfers (professionals and amateurs with handicaps of ≤4) are investigated. Professional golfers believe that attitude, desire and motivation are important psychological qualities necessary to succeed in tournaments. They are committed to golf, have goals they strive for, make plans, evaluate their performance and systematically train towards improving their game. The study of skilled golfers' traits, as measured by 16 personality factors, has provided ambiguous results and there may be more complex associations not yet investigated in golf.

The effect of mood and emotions on golf scores seems to be individual. Differences in personality may explain why mood states, measured by mood state profiles, have not shown a strong correlation to golf scores. Task focus, confidence, imagery, patience, ability to focus on one shot at a time and performing automatically have been found to be important during competition. These variables need to be further researched before, during and after the swing. The psychological processes needed before, during and after the swing differ and should be further specified.

A decrease in heart rate and a lower cortical activity moment before the swing may be signs of an optimal performance state. The effect of coping strategies may vary over time, and players should be able to switch and combine different strategies.

Pre-shot routine is associated with performance. However, it is not clear if consistency of total duration and behavioural content in pre-shot routine cause improved performance. Pre-shot routine may also be an effect of psychological processes, such as a different task focus. It may facilitate an automatic execution of technique, which can lead to better performance. The psychological variables needed for competitive golf should be related to the physical, technical and game-statistical variables in coaching and future research.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Örebro University, Department of Health Sciences, Örebro, Sweden

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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