Like many sports, golf requires intense focus. This is why it’s only natural to ask – is there a relationship between meditation and golf performance? And if so, how? Learn more about how meditation can improve your focus and performance in sport.
Many of the world’s greatest athletes have been quoted saying they practice some form of mental conditioning in order to up their game. The perils of losing focus – if only for a moment – can spell the difference between triumph and heartbreak.
What happens when you lose focus?
Golf, like most sports, is a mental and physical game. Distractions are everywhere in life. Within us, around us—distractions can be subtle, intense, or ruminate in the back of your mind. On the golf course, distractions seem to multiply.
Note the weather conditions: is it windy, rainy, sweltering, chilly? What about the people in your group? Are they incessantly chatty, unnecessarily angry, fidgety, slow to play? And what about that group that keeps hitting into you from behind – what’s their rush?
These are all external influences you have to negotiate in your mind while you’re playing golf. Not only can external and environmental distractions be problematic, but internal distractions can cause a severe loss of focus as well.
Imagine that you’ve arrived at the course in a certain frame of mind: perhaps a swirling mix of energized, anxious, fearful, and/or unsettled. Although you can’t quite pinpoint the exact cause of your mental and emotional state, you can feel a loss of clarity in your ability to fully connect your mind and body with your game.
There are disruptions everywhere that prevent us from playing like pros. We build up expectations. Emotions come into play and over-thinking leads to underperforming. How we respond to distractions at the moment acts as a good measure of how focused we really are.
So, how can you improve your focus?
According to new research from the University of Toronto Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education and Aix-Marseille University, up to seven minutes of meditation is all it takes to see the benefit during sport.
The study began with participants having their baseline brain wave activity measured using Muse before going out on an indoor putting green. Following the first 30 putts, all participants were then given a seven-minute break.
During their break, participants were instructed to do one of three things:
- Meditate using Muse headbands (receiving real-time neurofeedback about their brain activity during meditation)
- To meditate using Muse but without the auditory neuro-feedback turned on
- To spend their break simply relaxing without a neurofeedback device
Following their break, the participants repeated the original EEG or brain activity measurement, and then returned to the putting green for another 30 putts.
What Were the Results?
The study was conducted by Sadiya Abdulrabba, a fourth-year kinesiology student, under the supervision of Luc Tremblay, associate professor and Vice Dean of research at KPE, Katherine Tamminen, assistant professor at KPE, and Laurence Mouchnino, a researcher at Aix-Marseille University.
“I didn’t think a seven-minute meditation was going to do anything,” says Sadiya Abdulrabba. “A lot of the research I referenced talks about eight weeks of intense meditation, so I thought what’s seven minutes of meditation going to do for someone who is not an experienced meditator or golfer?”
To Sadiya Abdulrabba’s surprise, the study showed that the participants who meditated had significantly reduced the type of brain activity associated with voluntary movement control, compared to the participants who simply relaxed.
Additionally, the participants who showed a reduction in movement-related brain waves showed putting performance improvements.
“What’s so exciting about the University of Toronto’s work is that it shows us how easy it can be to use consumer neurotechnology like Muse as a powerful research tool. Athletes of all levels use technology and mental training to improve their game, and brain research has allowed us not only to bring these two applications together but make them widely accessible.”
-Dr. Graeme Moffatt, Phd, Chief Scientist and VP Regulatory Affairs
Next time you’re thinking about ways to improve your golf swing, consider trying meditation.
How to improve your golf game with meditation
1. Practice with Guided Meditations
Muse offers 500+ guided meditations on the Muse app to meet you where and when you need it. The Performance Collection was designed to help you perform at the highest level, no matter what challenge you may be facing.
Whether you’re looking to improve your performance at work, in class, or on the field, these guided meditations will provide you with the tools you need to thrive during challenging situations. This Guided Meditation Collection can help you improve your focus, visualize success, and feel more self-confident. Let go of stress, tap into your inner strength, and bring your A-game to every aspect of your life.
2. Meditate with Neurofeedback
Muse gives you feedback about your meditation in real-time by translating your brain, heart, breath, and body biosignals into guiding weather soundscapes.
When your mind is calm and settled, you’ll hear calm and peaceful weather. When your mind is active, the weather will get louder. You can choose from soundscapes like the beach, rainforest, city park and more.