Competition golf is back - yeh!
So many of my friends are happy to be back playing the game they love and signing up for the competitions at their clubs. Along with the excitement, I also hear the regular groans about how poorly they performed in the monthly medal, after hitting great shots in practice rounds. "Why is it that when I'm practicing I play great shots and as soon as I get a card in my hand I go to pot?" I wish I had a pound for every time I hear this is question. Sadly this is a common scenario for many golfers, who find their practice rounds go so much better than their competitive ones. The reason is It all boils down to TRUST. Trust is an essential mental skill required by golfers who wish to perform consistently well. It requires the player to believe in each and every shot they make. I'm not talking about hitting a perfect shot every time, that's impossible! The world's number one player is unable to achieve that. I'm talking about trusting your ability, so that
you trust your ability to play your best golf under stress or under pressure in competition
you trust your ability to play a successful recovery shot when needed, or to sink a long putt to save par.
Dr Bob Rotella's famous quote "golf is not a game of perfect," reminds us that no matter what handicap we have, we will produce inconsistent and unpredictable shots from time to time - its all part of the beautiful game. Trust is developed by practicing skills, both technical and mental, out on the golf course. Too many golfers spend hours at the range or on the course to improve their strike rate, but give little or no attention to their mental game. Failing to work on the mental skills, will leave you ill equipped to cope playing in stressful conditions. Mental skills need to be developed just as much as your technical skills to play at your best. Expecting to perform well under pressure without practicing those skills is like asking someone to pass their driving test without learning how to drive - that's madness! Why can't I play well in competition? (any of these sound familiar?)
You struggle to play in competition because you focus on the results.
You worry about where not to hit your shot.
You have several swing thoughts
When you hit a bad shot, you begin to fret about hitting another one.
Your mind goes into overdrive and you start to focus on your past failures and fear recreating the same result
Why can I play well when practicing?
When you're out practicing, your focus is purely on hitting the shot and NOT the result.
You may have one swing thought, but you're not overthinking before you hit the ball or during the swing.
If the shot veers off course you don't become overly concerned, you know there is another shot to play and that will be better than the one you've just played.
You simply focus on the best shot to play in that moment.
You TRUST YOUR ABILITIES.
How can I play in competition, like I do in practice? You need to recreate the same mindset you have when playing in practice. Resist focusing on the score and over-analysing the shot. As part of your pre-shot routine stand behind the ball and ask yourself this question; "What shot should I play?" Don't go for the ridiculously difficult shot that is high risk and you may find difficult to play, instead go for the shot to get you back in play, the shot you know you can TRUST you ability to play. Resist trying to steer or control the shot. Playing a shot you trust to get you back in play, will remove your attention away from focusing on "what is at stake if I miss this shot". Remember you don't need to play perfect golf shots to shoot a good score and your swing does not have to feel and look perfect to score well. Instead TRUST in your abilities and focus on the shot to play rather than the score to shoot
Give it a go this weekend and let me know how you get on. If your would like more information on these techniques please contact me to arrange a session
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