Archived Newsletters - PLAY UNDER PRESSURE WITHOUT COLLAPSING :
Newsletter September 2011
As we near the end of the summer, the USGA, country clubs and golf clubs are holding their championships. If you are going to play in a tournament where you want to play your best, do you know how to keep from folding under the pressure?
It is important to determine what makes you feel the pressure. What are the thoughts in your mind that are causing you to feel pressure? Having a good mental game means changing your thoughts that would put more pressure on your performance. Do any of the following interfere with your ability to play at your peak performance level?
- Do you get nervous when you are concerned with how others view you or your game?
- Do you get nervous when you are too psyched up to win?
- Do you get nervous when you think about having to make a shot/a putt?
- Do you get nervous thinking about a similar shot you missed in the past?
- Do you get nervous when you are in a hazard?
As Jim Flick, a Top 100 PGA teacher says:
"The game of golf begins in the mind: more than athletic ability, more than technique, more than practice, equipment or anything else. The mindset or attitude you bring to the game determines not only the enjoyment you desire from golf but also the level of proficiency you will achieve."
All great players get nervous. When they are under pressure, their hearts beat faster, muscles tighten, breathing is uneven, their mouths are dry, they have butterflies in their stomachs and sometimes their hands shake just like amateur golfers. It is important to learn how to deal with these changes in your physiological system.
Tom Kite said, "It is a very positive thing, being nervous. It means you care, and it allows you to do great things if you know how to direct it."
Tommy Bolt described it as: "It is okay to have butterflies in your stomach as long as they are flying in formation."
Here are some ways the pros use to control their nerves:
1. Slow down your thinking, your pace, and your pre-shot routine. "The more you hurry in golf, the worse you probably will play, which leads to even greater pressure and nervousness," said Nick Faldo.
2. Slow down your heart rate to regain muscle feel. Use deep breathing, humming, whistling, stretching, shaking your wrists, or enjoying the scenery.
3. Think positive thoughts. Focus your thoughts and mental pictures on where you want the ball to go, not where you don't want it to go. Your body will produce the last mental picture you have in your brain.
4. Stay in the present. Use your pre-shot routine to become focused on your target once you are over the ball, rather than on technique or possible results.
5. Keep it simple. Keep your swing thoughts simple. The less you have to deal with the better. Most amateurs don't know what goes wrong when they hit a poor shot. In competition it is better to focus on tempo, rhythm, target and basic strategy instead of getting involved with swing mechanics. Use the swing you have that day to shoot the best possible score you can.
6. Keep the game in perspective. It is after all, a game that we play for fun. After you leave the golf course the missed shots won't be half as important as you made them out to be. Putting golf in its proper perspective to the rest of your life can relax your mind and body, and help you put your best possible swing on the ball.
Jack Nicklaus said, "Being nervous is an important, positive event. It allows you to do great things if you control it rather than letting it control you."
Play "In the Zone" With Joan
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