Usual and Pressure-Affected Thinking in Skilled Golfers: A Survey of Preparation and Execution Thought Processes

in The Sport Psychologist

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Leo J. RobertsMathematical Sciences Discipline, School of Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

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Mervyn S. JacksonPsychology Discipline, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

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Ian H. GrundyMathematical Sciences Discipline, School of Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

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There are numerous studies of expert golfers’ thought processes, but few have examined thinking during both shot preparation and execution. This study had skilled golfers (N = 95, mean handicap = 1.5) complete a mixed-methods survey about their preparation/execution thoughts (a) in usual competitive circumstances and (b) during past experiences of choking. The results provided rare documentation of the ways that highly skilled golfers occupy their minds throughout the whole shot-making process. Moreover, the data allowed comparison of what golfers prefer to focus on and what the sport psychology literature recommends as optimal. The clearest gap that emerged was widespread use of deliberate or multifaceted thought during execution, against classical recommendations to swing with a quiet mind. The examination of choking implied that conscious interference was a more common rationalization for choking than previously reported. Implications for practice are discussed.

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