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  • Writer's pictureCarol Alford

Building Resilience

Every player faces setbacks, its all part of the game of golf. It can happen at any time without warning. Mis-judging a shot, getting an unlucky bounce or playing a disastrous hole after being in contention to win a trophy. How you deal with that moment in time will decide your fate. Understanding the impact of your emotions will help you to build resilience; to stay in control, rather than tipping the balance and sending you off into a tail spin and losing control. We've all seen players on tour suffer after playing a bad hole, Jordan Speith at the Masters in 2016 having a quadruple bogey at the 12th lost out to Danny Willet as a result. Jean Van de Velde in 1999 suffering a famous meltdown in The Open at St Andrews  on the 18th where he foolishly attempted to play his shot out of the burn. Russel Knox going on to score an incredible 8 on the par 3 island of the 17th at TPC Sawgrass in The Players in 2016. Instead of going to the drop zone, he continued to play 2 more tee shots to his detriment. I'm sure some of my regular readers will have their own horror stories to tell, where the game went terribly wrong and the experience sent them into a frenzy unable to think logically, resulting in more bad shots being played as a consequence. The body's natural reaction to a bad experience, such as shock, fear or anxiety is to release the stress hormone known as cortisol. When cortisol spikes the system it has a detrimental effect on our performance, slowing down the brains ability to think, making it difficult to think logically, whilst also impacting balance, rhythm and co-ordination. High levels can even cause the brain to freeze, making it impossible to think. This is is what Jordan, Jean Van and Russel experienced. It's similar to a computer system saying "access denied". When we play at our best our body will have copious amounts of the happy hormone DHEA. This is a performance-enhancing hormone and acts like a lubricant to our brain, making it easier to receive information and access motor functions. DHEA helps us make good decisions, it also improves our balance, timing and increases spacial awareness - all keys aspects required for golf.  Both hormones are simply chemicals transported around our body and coexist, fluctuating throughout the day, balancing each other out. If we have high cortisol, we will have low DHEA and conversely when we have high DHEA our levels of cortisol will be low. To explain further lets take a look at the picture below;

Hormones and emotions impact our performance, but adrenaline levels also play a part too, sometimes with dramatic consequences. The picture shows both emotions, happy (DHEA) and stress (cortisol), along the vertical axis, with adrenaline levels along the vertical axis. You will experience different feelings, depending on the cocktail mix your body is producing. To make this more realistic, think back to when you last played at your best. How much adrenaline did you have coursing through your body? Are you the type of player who likes to feel calm and relaxed on the course, like Ernie Els (The Big Ease)? If so you will have low adrenaline. Alternatively if you need to be pumped up to play like Ian Poulter in the Ryder Cup, then you will require high adrenaline to play at your best. Understanding your optimum adrenaline level will help you prepare for competition. It will also help you to understand what can tip your balance and place you into the danger zone, where your body will struggle to perform.  Players who like to play with high adrenaline, play at their best in the top left quadrant, where they feel happy, inspired and engaged. You will see these players giving high fives, feeding off the atmosphere and feeling excited. (Phil Mickleson and Michelle Wie are examples in this category). These players will however become aggressive and frustrated when their game goes wrong and their cortisol levels spike.  Alternatively players who have low adrenaline, play with composure, remain totally relaxed and in control of their game. They appear to be taking everything in their stride and moving at their own steady pace.  (Jordan Speith, Dustin Johnson and Inbee Park are examples of players in this category). When they start playing badly, cortisol leaves them feeling withdrawn, discouraged and demotivated.  Being aware of how you are feeling throughout your round can inform you where you are sitting in this grid. Knowing your body is suffering the effects of cortisol can inform you to take control by increasing your levels of DHEA. At we show you how to build your resilience using these techniques. Teaching you how to increase your reserves of DHEA before competing, to ensure your body does not suffer the effects of cortisol spikes. If you would like to learn more then please contact us for details. The techniques can be mastered  by all ages and abilities and can be done in the comfort of your home. So instead of being a slave to your emotions learn to unlock your true potential.

Hope you found this blog interesting, if you would like to learn more about mental toughness please visit our website and get in touch. Drop me an email and let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you. Visit our website and check out our other blogs, there's something in there for everyone.


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