Many young golf professionals who are on a quest to obtain their PGA or LPGA tour cards, practice long hours, yet their results fall well below their expectations of what they believe to be attainable.
These players are well motivated and well intended, but they place so much value on technique and swing perfection that they end up like a cat trying to catch its tail…they end up going round and round using up a lot of energy and end up being frustrated! They practice on their form, physique and technical efficiency, yet when things don’t happen for them on the golf course in the way that they expected, they repeatedly turn back to the practice range for more technical perfection in trying to create the perfect swing! Their thought process is: “I just need to do more drills, see my swing coach for a few more lessons and everything will fall into place”…and they do this day after day, month after month, to no avail and end up mentally and emotionally defeated and stale. When they look in the mirror, all they see is a frustrated and demoralized athlete who knows they have what it takes, but just can’t seem to find the answer!
For many, the reality isn’t their swing that holds them back, but it is their misdirected attitude and disposition when they play in competition. When a player goes into an event with the feeling that everything (meaning their swing and feel) has to be “totally on and perfect” it often leads to unrealistic expectations and eventually leads to outcome results that do not equal or match anything that they initially expected! This attitude often bleeds into the judgment of their shot results and they feel that they are not getting the breaks or good bounces that they see others around them are receiving! When this happens, a number of things happen: A player starts making excuses…they may start to feel resentment towards fellow players who seem to be getting all the breaks…or it may result in a player having a “pity party” on the golf course and feeling sorry for themselves…and the list goes on and on. These are typical responses to a player developing something of a “blind spot”, that is, they are not even aware of these feelings when they happen and it becomes an ongoing cycle of frustration and resentment of their developed talent!
If you feel like this, you need to turn your game around. In essence, you need to remove the negative baggage from your mind and “clean your house.” What I mean by “cleaning your house” is that at the end of your golfing day, take the time to assess what went well (and not so well) and make mental notes. Upon noting these changes, you need to mentally clear your mind and thought patterns and release any unnecessary negative feelings and thoughts about that day. In domestic language, you are “taking out the trash” of negative results and unmet expectations. A player must be brutally honest with themselves and ask the question: Am I a golfer or garbage collector?!? The choice you make will be self-evident when you finally say I need to clean up my mess!
Here are three suggestions to help you mentally “clean your house” while you play!
As you are playing, be aware of your self-talk and feelings. Let go of your negative thoughts, words, and behaviors. Change your negative thoughts and “hot” words into “cooler tones” and more supportive phrases. Instead of saying: I stink! I’m no good! Say to yourself, “It’s OK, hang in there, I can do better”. Repeat this positive affirmation at least five (5) times before you move into your next shot. (Try this..it works! REMEMBER: YOU ARE WHAT YOU SAY AND THINK TO YOURSELF!
If you hit a poor shot, instead of getting mad, take a few deep breaths and swing away your anger with two practice swings before you place the club into your bag and drive off to find your ball! The worst thing that you can do is to allow anger to be a passenger in your bag for your next shot. Allow yourself a bit of time to cool down and let the negative feelings dissolve before you move onto your next shot. Learning to “park your trash and move on” is a necessary strategy for superior performance.
If you become negative during your round, take a mental time out! Stop and take your hat or glove off and take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you can turn it around on this upcoming shot! When you have cleared your mind of the negativity ...put your hat or glove back on and say “time in”! Simply by controlling the situation allows you to regain perspective and start fresh with your upcoming shot! Good luck and great thoughts!
“Change Your Mind....Change Your Game”®
Dr. Robert K. Winters
Dr. Robert K. Winters is an internationally renowned sport psychologist who has coached major champions all over the world. He is also the Mental Game Advisor and member of the NXXT TOUR Advisory board. Dr. Winters can be reached for private consultations at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is: theconfidencedoctor.com. Call: 407 340 7785
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