For each situation the brain can choose different states:

The "I Don´t Care" Mode, a lack of concentration and circuits are not defined.

The "Flight" Mode, associated to Fear, an over production of adrenaline maintain the motion circuits shut down.

The "Fight" Mode, an adrenaline produced stress reaction.

The "Winner Mode", also called the"Predator" Mode, this is total concentration on the task at hand similar to the "Flow" state.

For golf, the "Winner" Mode or "Predator" Mode is the ideal state. How does it work? The body prepares for action with the same chemicals that produce fight or flight. The difference is that the area of the brain that determines the emotional status has chosen predator.

What are the characteristics of a predator?

  • How does a predator walk, move, run and stalk, behave?
  • Does a predator have fear?

If you see a lion stalk a zebra on a nature program on TV, you are watching one of the ultimate predators in the animal kingdom. You'll see that the lion's eyes are riveted on the zebra. His muscles will be rippling under his skin - ready for action. There is Total Concentration on the Task at hand. A kind of Flow.

Stress is the term used when the human body prepares itself for action. You must have stress (the correct level of stimulation) to perform sports motions optimally. Stress is essential for meeting challenges. "Choking" is losing control as a result of heightened and uncontrolled anxiety. "Choking" is just another word for an uncontrolled stress reaction. The problem is how to choose the correct stress; the Predator Mode is perfect.

To understand how to choose the Predator Mode, we need to understand how the body produces stress. The stress response starts in the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex interprets present and past experiences and defines what is and what is not stressful. Stress is the meaning you give it.

It's necessary to gear one's stress response to a helpful and correct level of arousal. Stimulation, at an optimum level, is linked to two internal functions critical for best performance:

Concentration and Self-Confidence.

Concentration enables the trained athlete to screen out distractions. When the cerebral cortex chooses fear, too much adrenaline is poured into the blood stream and memory is interfered with: you literally forget your training. You must practice enough to have the self-confidence that you can perform the mechanical motion effectively with consistency.

You must have correct fitting equipment and practice correctly enough to be a good ball striker. You must be able to consistently hit golf balls where you want them to go. Once you are a great ball striker, you can then begin to build a routine for concentrating on the task at hand.

This is when sports psychology is useful with Visualizing, Positive thinking and looking for the flow estate. You can visualize all you want, but if there is circuit for ball striking, you will not consistently hit a golf ball where you want it to go. When you become a good ball striker and then start applying the right psychology technique you can reach the Predator Mode. The brain is organized around Goals and Purpose. Stress is controlled by choosing to be in Control.

You cannot control situations, only your reaction.
Any one I choose to let bother me, controls my life.
You must choose to be in control, have a goal, and establish the purpose.

Stress is best conquered when you anticipate it and have a set action to control it.

Make a list of everything that bothers you or produces Choking stress.
Establish an action to eliminate the Choking stress and produce Predator stress. If you have an action to control negative stress, there is no negative stress. Systematically eliminate the items on your list. Start with the one that bothers you the least and get rid of it first. There are no short cuts. If you choose not to eliminate the things that cause negative stress, you will always have the negative stress.

Why do players have a swing for the:

  • driving range,
  • a swing when they play by themselves,
  • a swing when they play with their favourite foursome
  • a swing when playing in competition?

The answer was provided by Joseph E. LeDoux in an article in Scientific America in June of 1994.

The article is titled "Emotion, Memory and the Brain".

The neural routes underlying the formation of memories about primitive emotional experiences, such as fear, have been traced. The article explains that the "amygdala" circuits are responsible for emotions and the "hippocampus" is responsible for location. When you're on the driving range, the hippocampus says, “no problem, 100 yards wide, I haven't missed a driving range in years." The amygdala says, after missing or topping a shot," no problem, I'll just tee up another ball." There is no fear on a driving range.

Now you go to the course. The hippocampus says, “uh oh, thirty yards wide, trees on both side…" The amygdala says, " I can only hit one ball." You must establish ACTS (circuits) under playing conditions before the brain can perform without fear stress.

Next comes one of the toughest things to master in golf. You must accept shots that are not the results you wanted unemotionally. You must not call yourself names, call your family names, blame fate, blame conditions, blame others, or the multitude of other phrases and things that you have witnessed on the golf course.

The degree that you can become unemotional over shots that produce undesirable results, is the degree that you will master the game. The only way is to play under the conditions you will experience enough times to establish Predator Mode circuits for that condition.