Pulling your game out of a rut is never easy. Dr. Chelsi Day has one technique to help you on your way.

The 2022 Groundhog Day has come and gone. But do you ever feel like you’re Phil Connors, living the same day over and over? Golf is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable activity. It’s a real bummer when we get into a monotonous, repetitive rut. It happens to the best of us! The worst thing we can do is deny it and just go through the motions. The best way to approach any rut is to notice it and make an intentional decision about how to make a shift. 

There’s a mindfulness concept that uses the acronym STOP. If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you probably know that I believe mindfulness has the power to change your game and help you level up. So let’s talk about what STOP is and how it can get our game out of that rut. 

S – Stop

T – Take a breath

O – Observe

P – Proceed

Looks simple, right? It kind of is. The important aspect of STOP is gaining the ability to pause and notice how we are feeling and making an intentional decision on how to proceed. We often just ignore the problem or berate ourselves for feeling how we do. But it turns out that when we feel like we’re in a rut, it’s our mind sending us a really strong message. It’s typically telling us to slow down and pay attention. When we get into that rut, it’s often because we’re on autopilot. Instead of connecting with why we play golf and what we like about the game, we’re going through the motions. 

So next time you’re in a rut of any kind, slow down a bit and allow yourself to think about what’s different. Is there something you used to enjoy that you’ve disconnected with? Have you been too busy to make time to play with people you find fun? Have you started overthinking each shot instead of relaxing into your swing? Whatever it is, it’s not until you observe what you’re thinking and feeling that you have the power to change it. So once you’ve spent some time just observing, now you can decide what you need to do to proceed. Maybe you need to change who you play with or try out a local course you’ve never or rarely played. Maybe you need to establish a pre-shot routine that hypes you up a bit or make a change to it so it feels fresh and motivating. But the only way to figure out what you need is to figure out how you’re feeling. So spend a little time practicing STOPing so you can pop yourself right out of that rut!

Dr. Chelsi Day

Dr. Day is a licensed clinical psychologist. She is an Ohio native who completed her Bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Health and Sport Studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio while competing on the Varsity Swimming and Diving team as a diver. She then went on to earn a Master's degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology followed by a Master's degree and later a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University New England in Keene, NH.