When it comes to golf, most of us are casual to avid players who follow the same sort of routine to get their game in shape. Hit the range, hit the chipping green, take a few putts, hit the course to test those skills…and repeat. Its worked just fine for us over the years, so it’s become our go-to practice routine from the first round of a new season after the winter thaw, our go-to pre tournament plan and our pre-round prep. But the truth is, if you follow this plan every single one of us is missing the most important part of the game in this routine, and that is – your mental game.
It’s no secret, golf is very much a mental game. Its the reason you’re worried on the first tee, the reason you have butterflies in your stomach on a 3 footer, the reason ‘playing-it-safe’ can backfire, or the fact that you love certain holes, and despise others. If golf wasn’t a mental game, there would be many more pros in the world. ThinQ Golf has recently launched a revolutionary online product to help golfers of all ages improve their mental game. This used to only be an option for tour pros and aspiring professionals, who needed the help of sports psychologists such as Bob Rotella and Alan Goldberg to really take their games to the next level.
Much like Luminosity trains your brain for everyday tasks, ThinQ is designed to specifically help golfers for a broad range of on-course mental game challenges that we all face and suffer from. So if you’re the type of golfer who struggles to get over a bad shot, has trouble staying focused on the course, deals with pressure poorly, suffers from the yips and many more common mental game issues – ThinkQ has a solution.
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Here’s what you need to know:
ThinQ is a Scottsdale-based company that was designed to help golfers of all ages and skill levels work on developing a stronger, more focused, and more apt brain through the use of different online brain-games. This program is available for your computer, smartphone and tablet, and with 10 minutes a day you can begin seeing results on the course in as little as 3 weeks.
We here at SirShanksAlot were skeptical at first, but were given the opportunity to test out the different games this program has to offer. We downloaded the app to our computer, iPad and iPhone and gave it a run for its money. We felt the app worked best and was most seamless on the iPad/tablet, so if you have one, that’s likely your best bet. The games are simple enough to play, and slowly get harder the better you do. It became very apparent as to how each game helps you out with specific aspects of your golf mental game, and with practice can help make you a much stronger player. Here’s some of the common golf mental challenges you face, and how this app takes each into account each and helps you improve them:
Patience / Level-Headedness
Golf is a game of patience. If you hit the links expecting to shoot a number, chances are, you won’t even get close. You need to learn to play your game one shot at a time, and your scores will fall in place. Furthermore, understanding that bad bounces and bad luck are all part of the game, and remaining calm is the best way to shoot your scores.
The Intention Game from ThinQ is a great way to test and improve these skills. The key with this game is to be patient, but to commit to your chosen outcome. You are given plenty of chances to finish the game early, but remaining patient, and with a key focus on your outcome is the best way to get a high score. The more holes you pass, the more difficult and frustrating this task can become, and you soon learn that patience is the only way to master the game.
Dealing With bad luck/golf gods
We all had bad bounces or bad luck on the course. But in reality its an aspect of the game we can’t avoid – sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don’t. ThinQ’s solution to this common challenge is in the works, this game will randomly affect your character, and your reaction to these outside effects will be reflected in your score. This aspect of the game is coming soon.
Dwelling on a bad shot can be the downfall of many players. The added pressure usually leads to a downward spiral of poor swing thoughts, and poor swing tendencies that degrade your game. Being positive on the course is the only way to play effectively.
The Intention Game has a built in model that teaches players to use good shots to develop a positive attitude. It also teaches players that bad shots are really no big deal, and they need to let them go and move on to the next one in order to score well.
Focus, focus, focus. If you are not committed to each and every shot, doubt and anxiety can creep in and wreak havoc in your game. Focus is the key ingredient to shooting low scores, and separates good players from bad ones. It allows you to fully grasp all the factors at play (the winds, the elevation changes, your lie, the hazards and your target), and make a dedicated decision on your course of action. This is one of the most important golf skills to have.
Not surprising ThinQ has incorporated elements of focus into each and every game, however there are two games in particular that work very hard on this specific skill. Each of these games has built in distractions that compete for your attention while you try and reach the goal. These distractions are sometimes very loud and very difficult to see past. For example, the awareness game requires you to remember the placement and attributes (like flag size, color and wind) of flags on the course, but before you can recreate where they were, the game tries to distract you from being able to do so with photographers coming out from behind trees, golf carts screaming across the screen, gophers, airplanes and more. This game was one of our favorites. Incredibly challenging, but you could feel your brain working.
Also, the attention game is a great example of this. With this game we actually make the goal of the game and the distracting elements one in the same. It is your job to pay attention and recognize what balls can be paired together, but those same balls are also spinning and have alternating colors, both of which are irrelevant to the matching process. This requires you to look past the distractions even though they are in plain sight. Not only that, but elements of patience come into play here, your initial reaction, may not be the right one, so being patience is also rewards be being able to ‘double-up’ on your pairs.
We all have swing thoughts in our heads before a shot – swing smooth, turn your shoulders, pause at the top, first move down, complete the follow-through etc. All of which, can turn your game into an analytic nightmare, not allowing you to swing smoothly and freely. Golfers often become encumbered with too many swing thoughts on the course when they are overly analytical. There is no place for this out on the golf course.
THINQ’s Games were specifically designed remove players from this analytical state and place them into the performing state and just like all the other skills in golf, getting into, and playing in this state is a teachable skill that the best players in the world have developed. THINQ’s games help teach this skill.
Analyzing the Shot Correctly
There’s lots of factors that go into each and every shot, but most importantly you have to learn to let bad shots go, and remember the good ones.
This is probably one of the things that THINQ does better than anyone else. It teach players a simple and repeatable “post shot routine” that gives them a guideline for understanding and digesting the shot they just hit. It teaches them what questions to ask and what to do with the answers about each shot so they can get the most from their experiences on the course. This philosophy significantly increases the rate at which golfers improve. Furthermore, games like the awareness game help you focus in on key-details and discard the rest. A skill that is very useful out on the course, thinking about the swing your about to make is by far more important than thinking about your score, or the fact that you hooked the last two shots with this club and there’s water left. Remembering only the details that you need to know to execute a particular shot, and filtering out the rest is a great skill to have and ThinQ help you train your brain for it.
Dealing With Pressure
Feeling butterflies in your stomach over a three-footer to break 80? Or, worried about hitting the green with a $10 nassau on the line. What about making the cut to play on the PGA Tour? Pressure is a huge part of this game, whether you play it for fun, or for a living. Dealing with this pressure is one of the hardest skills to master, and can lead to a whole bunch of other problems if you can’t handle the heat. Handling pressure is what differentiates good players from great ones, here’s how ThinQ can help.
As you increase in levels in the game they become more difficult and the total score attainable becomes greater. We also have worldwide leaderboards that display your scores and abilities within the game and lastly, we hold competitions for our members with real prizes and giveaways to the winners. They recently paid for the Q-School entry fee for the winner of our latest contest that was held for players that will be competing in this falls Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament. So not only are you training your game, but you can be having fun winning prizes while doing it. There’s also the aspect of the game where you can challenge your friends – we’ll be running a follow-up post with The Golf Drill Guru challenging SirShanksAlot soon. Stay tuned!
The yips is a classic mental game challenge for many golfers. It can be incredibly frustrating, even to the point of players suffering from it to consider quitting the game altogether. Surprisingly, ThinQ does have an aspect of their game that is specifically designed to help golfers who suffer from the yips and that is the Synchronicity game. This game challenges golfers to focus on a particular tempo, and avoid any outside distractions.
THINQ team member and LPGA Master Professional Dr. Debbie Crews, one of the creators of the game is perhaps the world’s leading sport psychologist in understanding and working with players with the yips. The Synchronicity game has been shown to help resolve the Yips in certain individuals.
We’ve all been there, up on the first tee with many people waiting, only to top the ball 30 yards ahead to start your game because you made a rushed, quick swing.
First tee jitters are overcome by a solid routine, but more importantly they are overcome by knowing that your pre-shot routine will work for you under pressure. In order to achieve this you need to repeat it with success before you take it to the course. ThinQ’s intention game and synchronicity game both teach you a repeatable pre shot routine and through repetition we can ingrain this into our games and develop confidence in it.
Overall, this app has what it takes to be on a golfer’s phone. If anything, it can help you train your golf game when you’re unable to be out on the course. Give it a try for free online now, and if you want to test out the full features of the app, pay the fee. It’s a fun game, that will improve your golf game, and ability to focus on the course – definitely worth the price of participation.
- multi-device access
- much lower costs than sports psychologists
- simple to understand and fun and addicting to play
- free to download
- lower end graphics
- depending on device capacity, games can skip
- some games have some minor glitches
Where to Get It?
ThinQ Golf can be downloaded at the Apple and Blackberry? App stores, and can be downloaded for computers online at their website below.
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What does it cost?
The app is completely free, but there is a $4.99/month membership fee, which gives you access to the live leaderboards, tournaments, full-access to all the mind games and daily training. A yearly membership costs you less than 1 visit to sports psychologist, so its easily worth the price.