Golf Swing Thoughts – What to think about when hitting the ball

I like to talk about mental game techniques, and golf swing thoughts are an easy element to implement to improve your play.

What should I be thinking about during my swing? The truth is, the answer will be different for every golfer dependent on their skill level and goals.

There is disagreement on whether a golfer should try to have conscious thoughts during their golf swing or not.

I mentioned skill level will have an influence on my swing thought recommendation. This makes sense because PGA tour players are not likely to manifest swing thoughts; rather, they are more reliant on muscle memory and tempo. There is no need for a drill to focus their conscious mind on technical reminders.

On the other hand, I believe amateur golfers may benefit from a conscious technical or motivational swing thought.

The key is all golf swing thoughts are positive, simple, and minimal. The desired focus whether technical or mental should be calming not distracting. Positivity is a must!

What are golf swing thoughts?

cartoon golfer meditating

Usually, swing thoughts are like mantra words. It will be something that you repeat before you shoot so you concentrate on the correct details be it the mental focus or technical detail. Golf swing thoughts can be a cue or trigger for your mental golf game.

Hitting a bad shot or even a good shot can send an amateur golfer into their head. Going back to one swing thought is an opportunity to remind you of what’s happening in your golf game and center yourself.

A simple swing thought will help you eliminate cluttered thoughts.

My 10 favorite golf swing thoughts

  1. Tempo or “1-2-3”. Tempo is a common trait of really good golfers in their swing, and it works for all of your golf shots from driving to putting.

  2. “This shot.” Because only the next shot is important in my game. Not a technical swing thought but very helpful for resetting mentally.

  3. “Swing path.” When a hook or slice issue becomes apparent, a focus on the swing path can bring me back around.

  4. “Follow through!” A good, deliberate follow-through is the culmination of the golf shot. This is an easy mantra to get you through your swing without distraction.

  5. “Head.” Keeping the head in position is another common characteristic of good golfers.

  6. “Rotate.” I sometimes have a tendency to sway instead of rotating. A good reminder to rotate and do the work is just the trick to fix this issue for me.

  7. “Hit the ball.” Just have fun and hit the ball.

  8. “Little ball then big ball.” Hitting the ground (big ball) before the golf ball (little ball) results in chunking the shot and removing too much earth. A cute thought to take your divot in front of the ball can help avoid the chunk. Again, keep it positive.

  9. “Balance.” A small corrective reminder to be aware of my balance is all that is needed to bring my stance inline.

  10. “Wrist hinge.” Another focused technical thought to use when I know I’m not executing the wrist hinge correctly. Also a power word might be useful for some to increase the explosiveness of the swing.

Where are you in the development of your game?

Consider your playing level when deciding if focusing on various swing thoughts would be helpful to you.

Most golfers could benefit from a conscious, focused thought during the golf shot.

When we neglect to execute, mental resilience is key.

A player can easily get sucked into the scorecard (again good or bad) and become nervous as they pull out their golf club and begin their pre shot routine. Many golfers struggle when implementing swing changes and become discouraged. These situations require the golfer to dig deep mentally and overcome.

Returning to a simple swing thought can reset the mental game and enable amateur players to regain their composure. Most importantly, the player can enjoy themself more if they have a solid golf mental game plan and don’t let outside pressures affect playing their best golf.

Consider simple swing thoughts as a course of action when you are making swing changes or need to reset a particularly bad round.

As you progress in your level of play, technical swing thoughts may no longer be necessary or desired as you hit shots. There are other methods to enhance your mental game when playing golf.

Auditory Swing Cues

The first factor that influences our performance is time, and in particular, the rate we move in time or tempo. Tempo plays a critical role in synchronizing the various motions of a golf swing meeting a golf ball. Your tempo determines how quickly the ball moves at impact.

Although rhythm swing thinking can benefit all players since it focuses on the sound, it is more effective for the players if they prefer an auditory experience rather than producing mechanical or technical mental swing thoughts.

Examples of tempo swinging include song lyrics or songs which guide your swing as a response to certain beats or cues. Simple smartphone apps help many golfers keep a good pace during their swing while practicing on the driving range. If you’ve not heard of the specifics around golf swing tempo, the research behind it is quite interesting and worth the read.

Swing tempo tones can be a good choice for a player not wishing to have swing thoughts in their head. If losing yourself in the moment is preferred when you play golf, I suggest you really give this method a try and let go of the conscious mind approach.

External versus Internal Focus

Most athletes are either internally or externally focused. Meaning they draw their energy and confidence from inside themselves and most likely don’t engage with competitors or fans during competition or conversely, they thrive on external interactions and hype.

Generally speaking, swing thoughts would best work for those internally focused because they already have a tendency to pull from that space.

Again as a broad assumption, externally focused players could potentially incorporate auditory cues in a rhythmic or tempo-type swinging because they are aware of events outside their body. They would be more receptive to auditory stimuli.

However, do not be discouraged if you think you are an internally focused athlete and want to use tempo swinging. Try it!

The main idea of mental golf is that everyone should experiment and find what works for their game. I’ll give you ideas and techniques. Experiment and implement what fits with your style of play.

At a minimum, you will discover more about you, the golfer, and what mental tips work for YOUR game.

Know Your Tendencies Under Pressure

How do you talk to yourself after a bad shot? What happens after you miss the fairway?

A tighter grip on the club? A disgusted grunt? Few choice words? All of these can lead to a self-destructive path. Definitely not the mental resilience we are looking to achieve.

If this sounds like something you might do when rattled by undesired outcomes, I encourage you to keep your attitude and self-talk extremely positive.


Try to focus on your temp swinging without any attention to the results. Or keep a singular swing thought in your head paired with a positive mental disposition.

How can I reduce Swing Thoughts?

Multiple swing thoughts on the golf course are likely not helpful. So how can you clear your mind to only allow the positive to enter?

Good mental golf will keep you forward-focused and more positive for each shot.

Check out my article on mental golf game tips for an introduction into visualization and affirmations. If you are prone to distracting thoughts, these techniques will help you combat game deteriorating influences.

Final Swing Thoughts

90% of the golf game is mental. Keep your attitude and thoughts fabulously positive on the golf course; every shot envisioned as an opportunity to improve.

Winning is the most fun so get an advantage by utilizing swing thoughts or rhythm swinging as a comfortable pre shot routine as they fit into your golf game and playing your best golf.

Good luck and good thoughts!

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