Category: Golf Wellness

Dr. Nick Molinaro – How to Enter the Flow State in Golf

Dr. Nick recently wrote a great article for  Dr. Nick is a frequent guest speaker at College Golf Camps of America.  We love this article because simply explains how performance is not forced.  Enjoy the information from our friend Dr. Nick.

CGC Staff

How to Enter the Flow State in Golf

Sport psychologist, Dr. Nick Molinaro explains how the right pre-competition preparation can help golfers get into the ‘zone’ or ‘flow’ state to achieve their highest levels of performance.

One of the most frequent questions I am asked by golfers of all abilities, coaches and parents is how to enter the zone or flow state in golf. The profession of sports psychology has different opinions about the ability to enter this highest level of performance. Some believe it is random and more serendipity-like while others believe it can be experienced by effective decision making of selective attentional shifting. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian Psychologist, noted in his study on Happiness:

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times…The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” (1990, p. 3).

I believe that an athlete can proactively set the stage for entering “Flow” states by utilizing the model Csikszentmihalyi designed.

Every moment in practice and competition a golfer has the opportunity to choose where to place their attention. I will provide a more in-depth discussion in the future about how this system is employed so, for now, we will make it simple.

The golfer should identify a challenge they want to stretch themselves towards. It is not simply the number of fairway hits, coming through the ball, etc. It is the mental process that demands attention. Some great examples are remaining focused, relaxed and present prior to making contact with the ball. If the player has some basic skills in each of these areas than the challenge is to do it more effectively.

Using a scale of 1-10 for Focused Effort (FE) the player identifies the specific mental skill and assigns a challenge level to it for their FE target. Attaining the target score of FE as frequently as possible for the entire round would be the challenge. The targeted skill is to employ it with the target FE each time they hit a shot. For example, being focused, relaxed and present with an FE of 8. Initially, this may appear easy, but I can assure you, it will take lots of practice to do so.

Here is the model Csikszentmihalyi developed:

How to enter the flow state in golf

Note that:

  • low skills and low challenge produce APATHY;

  • high skills and low challenge produce BOREDOM;

  • low skills and high challenge produce ANXIETY; and

  • high skills and high challenge produce FLOW.

Setting up a Challenge-Skills Balance for each competition helps in reaching flow states. Refer to Process Goals from my previous article to familiarize yourself with them.

I highly recommend this exercise:  identify a process goal for the skills and FE on a scale of 1-10 for the Challenge. Be sure to construct the Challenge-Skills Balance before each of your competitions as well as for your practice sessions.

Flow State in Golf

Channing Hensley’s Pre-tournament and Practice Notes

I asked one of my very talented high school juniors, Channing Hensley, who has committed to UNC Wilmington, how she prepares for her competitions and practice sessions and she kindly provided the following notes.

1Tournament Play Preparation

  • When possible, always play a practice round to familiarize myself with the course layout and greens.
  • If not possible, do course research and map out via web and diagram into yardage book.
  • Go through each hole and visualize strategy based on hole layout, yardage and map strategy into the yardage book. Develop my game plan.
  • Do a hole-by-hole visualization and see myself playing the hole.
  • When playing the practice round, drop balls from various locations around each green to practice chipping/pitching. Do the same on the greens for putting.
  • Work on pre-shot routine (cadence and visualization) techniques.

2Preparation for Practice

  • Never practice without a plan or goal.
  • Write down objective for the day before arriving at the course.
  • All drills will have outcome based results that I can track to help create a similar to tournament fee.
  • Dedicate a certain amount of time for practice sessions and take breaks every 30 minutes to stay mentally sharp.
  • Place heavy emphasis on process and pre-shot routine and implement before each shot during practice.
  • Finally, and certainly not last, make it fun! Realize how much I enjoy the game and be thankful for the opportunity I have to play it.

More recommendations for pre-competition preparation to come in future articles.

I would love to hear from you about your ideas, comments or questions below.

Dr. Nick.


dr-nick-molinaro-womens-golfOur contributing writer in Sport Psychology, Dr. Nick Molinaro is a licensed psychologist with specialties in Counseling, Human Development, and Sport Psychology.

Although his clients have ranged from the NASCAR, NBA, NFL, USA Ski and Gymnastic Team members, he is mostly known for his work with golfers. Dr. Nick has worked with players on PGA, LPGA, Symetra, LET tours as well as collegiate players at some of America’s most prestigious colleges including Oregon, Notre Dame, U Arizona, and U Texas,

Dr. Nick is the Mental Coach for the Michael Breed Golf Academy at Trump Golf Links, Fiddler’s Elbow Golf Academy, NJ and is an Advisory Board Member on and the Fellowship for Christian Athletes. He is frequently a guest on The Golf Fix on The Golf Channel and the 19th Hole Weekend Edition on CBS Sport Radio.

Find out more about golf psychology at Dr. Nick’s website, and follow him online on Twitter and Facebook.

Four Guiding Principles for Golf Fitness Exercises

Golf fitness exercises help to keep vital golfing muscles in good shape, and this is important for preventing injury and being as on top of your golf game as you possibly can.

Remember that golf fitness exercises help to improve agility, endurance, flexibility, and overall strength and control, and junior golfers can use all of these golf fitness exercises as well.

Here are a few golf fitness exercises that you junior golfers should use to improve your golf game and keep your bodies in prime shape for competition.

Keep in mind that all golf fitness exercises should be done with the golf club in hand.

1- Core Muscles:

Stand with your golf club in front of you, one hand on each end of the club. With club in hand and arms apart, stretch the trunk in each direction until you feel the muscles stretch, but not so far or so hard that you feel pain. This exercise will helps to keep the muscles in your sides, back, and abdominal limber in good form.

2- Legs:

As with other golf fitness exercises, leg warm ups are also done with the golf club in hand. Not only will it provide a good deal of balance in this instance, but it also allows for support in precarious leg exercises. With the golf club in hand, you should perform toe touches and squats.

3- Lateral Muscles:

While you still use your club for support on this exercise, it is done a bit differently. Hold your golf club above your head with your arms shoulder length apart. Bend the body from right to left until you feel enough of a stretch in each area for that to be satisfying. Don’t overdo it, as lateral muscle strain can really be a pain the next day.

4- Shoulders:

Shoulders are an important area for golf fitness, but exercises can be done with ease. One of the easiest ways of exercising this part is to put your golf club behind your shoulders with one hand and reach back with the other. This will cause the shoulders to stretch in the right places, and you can easily tell when the stretch is getting to be too much, so take care not to overdo it.

Always keep in mind that the body needs to go through rest, recovery and regeneration in order to develop properly. So, we should always allow some time for our body to relax between tow exercises.

“Golf Fitness Exsercises.” Golf Fitness Exsercises. Copyright © 2006-2007 Junior-golf-guide, n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2016.

Nutrition Tips with Rika Park

Golf Nutrition Tips for Junior Golfers

A healthy diet is an important factor for achieving peak athletic performance, especially for junior golfers.  In this article Rika Park, IJGA Strength and Conditioning Coach, gives some quick tips for a well-balanced diet.

Golf Wellness & Health Information

1. Be sure to consume enough energy (calories) every day. Low energy intake can result in:

  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Menstrual dysfunction
  • Loss of bone density
  • Increased risk of injury, fatigue and illness
  • Prolonged recovery process

2. Carbohydrates

  • Should consume 2.7-4.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight
  • That’s 6-10 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight for our international friends
  • Carbohydrates maintain blood glucose level during exercise and replace muscle glycogen

3. Protein

  • Should consume 0.5-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight
  • That’s 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight
  • Protein intake is usually met by the daily diet alone
  • Very important for tissue repairing process

4. Fat

  • Should account for around 20-35% of total caloric intake
  • Consuming less than 20% of total diet does not benefit performance
  • Is a source of energy
  • Fat soluble vitamins and essential fat are important for athletes
  • A high-fat diet is not recommended

Golfers Diet Tips by Rika Park

About Rika: A native of Japan, Rika Park came to the United States when she was 14 years old. An IJGA alum, Rika trained at the International Junior Golf Academy for four-and-a-half years. She played NCAA DI golf at the University of Miami, where she majored in Exercise Physiology and minored in Sports Medicine. Rika is TPI Level 2 Certified. She can be reached at

-@ijga_. “Nutrition Tips from Rika Park – IJGA.” International Junior Golf Academy IJGA. International Junior Golf Academy, 01 July 2016. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.


Winter Golf Workouts

As winter is quickly approaching, Interlachen Director of Instruction Luke Benoit, provides some workout tips that help junior golfers over the winter months.

Build Swing Speed

“My number one recommendation to almost all juniors is to pick up clubhead speed by simply swinging a club every day,” reports Luke. “No need to even hit balls, just swing as fast as you can! Twenty hard swings every day will help you build up clubhead speed quickly.” Benoit trains numerous high school and college golfers during the winter and tailors exercise plans based on the unique attributes of each individual person. Athletes who play other sports have different exercise needs than those that just play golf, for example.

Offseason Training

Benoit also likes to create custom training programs based on what a golfer’s game and swing need. “For instance, if you’re already pretty strong, it might make sense to work more on flexibility than strength,” he says. “If you’re skinny and flexible, then you probably need to start adding some serious strength to your frame.” Benoit says the best plan is to find a golf fitness instructor who can create a workout specifically for you.

Weight Work

In a general sense, Benoit recommends integrating full body weight exercise like planks, push-ups, pull-ups and medicine ball tosses into any training plan. He says more often than not, discipline to keep the routine going is the biggest problem for most junior golfers. “My recommendation is to start small with an accomplishable goal of 20-minute workouts 3-4 days per week,” he suggests. “If you can keep that up for a month and want more, find a fitness pro that can develop a customized plan and get serious about it.”

Benoit is also on the staff at the Minnesota Golf Academy in Eden Prairie, which offers group workout classes every Saturday to help make fitness fun. He says there are many such programs around the state – just ask your coach or local Section Professional for more information.

That’s advice that all of us can use as we get ready for the 2017 season.

-Overson, Brian. “Winter Golf Workouts For Junior Golfers.” |. N.p., 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

How Much Strength Training Should Junior Golfers Do?

Strength training for young golfers is rather controversial. Although there’s actually been concern about growth plate damages in children and teenager who lift weights, the American Academy of Pediatricians, American College of Sports Medication and the National Strength and Conditioning Association support strength and weight training for kids as young as 7 or 8, presuming they meet particular conditions. Junior golf enthusiasts vary from age 7 to 19. The youngest junior golf enthusiasts could do a minimal quantity strength training. Senior high school- and college-age junior golf players who’re particularly significant about the game frequently include strength training into their exercises 4 to 5 days per week.

Strength Vs. Weight Training

Fitness instructor and golf bio-mechanics expert Susan Hill emphasizes that strength training isn’t the exact same as weightlifting. Hillside states that junior golfers shouldn’t be lifting heavy weights. Rather, they ‘should begin with body weight works out that put an emphasis on numerous muscle teams and movement patterns which simulate real life movements such as push-ups, pull-ups, and multi-directional lunges.’ If weights are utilized, Hill advises light weights and even more repeatings.

Safety and Supervision

Correct strategy and proper guidance is particularly essential for junior golf players and various other young athletes to reduce the threat of injuries. Youngsters ought to condition for 10 minutes prior to starting strength training sessions and need to stretch later. 2 or three strength training sessions weekly, and a couple of days of rest in between sessions, are plenty for younger junior golf players.


Golf physical fitness trainer Scott Shepard makes use of rubber bands that offer resistance for golf particular exercises, that include lateral, forward, backwards and rotational motions. The bands are made use of by a few of the top players on the PGA and Ladies Specialist Golf Association tours. Shepard and various other teachers stress that strength exercises for juniors are meant to improve their golf games and boost the general health and wellness of the youngsters who take part.

Teen Junior Golfers

As junior golf players hit their teen and mid-teen years, strength training becomes more crucial. Junior golf enthusiasts might’ve swing coaches, club fitters and even sports psychologists. At the college level, golf players commonly exercise with the strength coaches four or 5 days weekly. Junior golfers who take part in a strength training program before college may be at a competitive benefit over their peers.

-Admin. “How Much Strength Training Should Junior Golfers Do? | Exercise & Fitness.” Exercise & Fitness., 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 07 Oct. 2016.

Fundamentals of Fitness for Junior Golfers

Junior Golf Fitness Exercises

As a junior golfer, you already possess early signs of discipline, commitment and great potential for your future in golf. You continue to develop emotional maturity, mental skills and strategies in addition to the ongoing development of your golf swing.

Now, it’s time to begin the process of physical development. Let’s start by learning the correct way to train for golf as you build a strong, healthy body and a solid base of support. These concepts will serve as your foundation for a lifetime of benefits in good health, protection from injury and better golf.

Learn proper guidance on form. Make sure your child receives proper instruction on exercise form as they begin a strength training program for golf. Adults can provide instruction and supervision to enforce safety and good technique. You can also consider hiring a trained professional to demonstrate proper form and safety measures. Most gyms have a junior program where they offer proper lifting techniques and protocols. Golf training programs for juniors should emphasize the principles of lifetime fitness and proper exercise form so they receive maximum benefits from exercise while minimizing any risks. Adults who design training programs for their children should provide an environment centered on enjoyment, positive reinforcement and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.

Think about strength training as opposed to weight lifting. Your young players are not aspiring weightlifters or bodybuilders, but rather strength builders. Junior golfers should begin with body weight exercises that place an emphasis on many muscle groups and movement patterns which mimic real life movements such as pushups, pull-ups, and multi directional lunges. Weights can be used, but the focus should be light weights and higher repetitions. Simply choose 5 or 6 exercises and perform 15 to 20 reps while continuing your concentration on good form and technique. Never compromise on the quality of your movement in favor of increased repetitions. Begin with only a few repetitions until you master an exercise. Parents or instructors should provide clear instruction and close supervision.

Always include a warm up. Your child should begin each workout with a brief warm up of roughly 10 minutes. They can jog in place, perform jumping jacks, or do high knee ups. Once the body is warm, the muscles are now ready to do their part in strength training while minimizing the risk for injury. Your workout should end with a light stretching session to reap maximum benefits.

Give your body proper rest. Two or three sessions per week are plenty to benefit your strength, endurance and overall golf game. Junior golfers, just like adults, need to give their bodies adequate rest so they can undergo the repair, remodeling and regeneration process. Be sure to take a rest day or two between strength training workouts.

Record your progress. End each session by entering a few notes on a workout card or notebook dedicated to your exercise routine. Simply record which exercises, how many repetitions, and what weights or resistance your child uses during a workout. Monitoring your progress will give you a quick snapshot of what you’ve done and how best to progress from there.

Add variety, consistency and fun. Once something becomes a chore or loses its initial interest, boredom can set in. Don’t be afraid to try new exercises and vary your workouts. Think outside the boundaries of a gym and make the workout fun. Body weight exercises can be done outside as easily as indoors. Figure out which exercises your child enjoys best and repeat those. Bring in new exercises every few weeks and keep the workout fresh. The enjoyment factor will contribute to your child’s interest in consistency over time.

Strength training for juniors is supported by organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Each of these organizations encourages children’s participation in appropriately designed training programs as long as they are competently supervised. Introduce your junior golfer to a lifetime of health and fitness while improving early motor skills, self esteem and overall physical and emotional well being.

– By Susan Hill. “The Fundamentals of Fitness for Junior Golfers.” Junior Golf Scoreboard. Susan Hill, n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

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