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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Blackwell

Improve Your Mental Game for The Open


With The Open right around the corner, you are doing all you can to be physically prepared, but have you also trained your brain?

“Sometimes I think we forget about training our brain. We spend all of our time training our body but we forget about the brain. If you can train the brain, your body will go so much further than you think it can.”

–Dani Horan on ‘Brain Training’

It’s probably safe to say that at some point during training, you’ve been uncomfortable. If you want to get the most out of your training, learn to push past the discomfort. Your brain will begin telling your body to slow down or stop to protect it from reaching failure. So then, how do you keep going when things start to get tough? Train your brain to get you through it.

6 Tips to Help You Break Through Your Mental Wall

1.) Differentiate between pain and discomfort. Pay attention to what is going on with your body. If you are struggling with something and feel like you can’t go any further, do a quick body scan. What does it feel like? If it feels awkward or uncomfortable, can you keep going? Challenge yourself to push past it. If you are feeling pain, then listen to your body and scale down or stop for a moment. The point is to be able to clearly recognize the difference. Pain is a signal that something is wrong. Discomfort is an opportunity to push yourself beyond what you thought you were capable of and reach a new PR.

2.) Change your mindset. If you tell yourself how much this sucks or that you’re tired, you’ll stop pushing. We give up in our heads, long before our body gives up. Pay attention to the running commentary in your head. Do you tend to be negative? Are you learning from mistakes and encouraging yourself to keep going or are you fixating on what you could have or should have done differently? Talk to yourself like you would talk to a training partner.

3.) If you make a mistake acknowledge it and move on. Don’t mess up your next set or rep because you were busy thinking about what just happened. It’s over, you can’t change it. Learn from it and move on. You can’t control the past so keep your focus on the things you can control. If you do that, you’ll allow yourself to keep your focus on your next rep.

4.) Break it down. Think about what your fitness goals are and write them down. Then break them down into small, specific concrete steps. Even if that means just adding a fractional plate or one more rep. Aim to be 1% better every day.

5.) Take a deep breath. If you notice yourself feeling anxious about a movement, take a moment and take a few deep breaths, focusing on your breathing, then reset yourself and go.

6.) Distract yourself and keep moving. When we get uncomfortable, we start to slow down and end up taking longer breaks then we meant to. If you aren’t feeling pain, push yourself to keep moving. When you take breaks and start to think about being tired and uncomfortable, you may start to talk yourself out of the workout.


Try using some of these strategies and see what works for you. Remind yourself that the uncomfortable feeling is temporary and start looking at that feeling as your opportunity to get better. Looking at it this way will help you push past it and when you get that next PR, you’ll be glad that you did.

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