Flip the Funnel
Is fear holding you back from performing? If the answer is yes, then you need to take back control by flipping the funnel.
Last week, I talked about how lots of players find it difficult to transfer their perfectly hit shots from the range to playing in competition. This is due to range play being undertaken in a fixed environment; where you can control not only where to place the ball, but also the conditions in which you play the shot. Of course once you're out playing in competition, all of this control is taken away and you find yourself having to deal with changing external conditions, such as wind or rain and the ball may end up lying in extreme rough or on a slope.
Mentally when practicing at the range, you'll probably have only one or two thoughts at a time, which makes it easier to stay focused, unlike out on the course, where multiple thoughts will be racing through your mind. It's like comparing watching a film at home on your TV and going to the cinema where the noise and sights are multiplied.
To help you understand "flipping the funnel concept" let me explain further;
When you're out playing on the course you will have numerous thoughts popping inside your head as you walk in between shots. When you are in control you are blissfully unaware, in fact I bet you've said in the past when you've played well "I didn't have a single thought out there today". In reality you did, but because you were in control you didn't attach any meaning or consequence to the thought. Thoughts only have POWER when you give meaning to them
When a thought pops into your head it moves from Awareness into a Strategy and you start thinking about "what I need to do". When you are control you find it easier to visualise the shot required and execute with perfection, without any concern or fear being present.
On the flip side when you're concerned about making mistakes, your awareness is focused on fear. You become more aware of what can go wrong, amplifying the fear. Your Awareness goes to DANGER ALERT. As soon as this happens, your body and mind becomes aware something is wrong, resulting in your Strategy becoming focused on how NOT to do what your worrying about. e.g. I don't want to focus on the out of bounds, or last time I played this hole I hit it in to the water.
At the same time you become internally focused, reducing your ability to visualise the shot. Instead you start to focus on more internal thoughts, such as swing mechanics, how to grip the club, hand positions in transition, set up etc etc. Your head becomes so full of thoughts, the noise generated in your mind makes it impossible to focus on what needs to be done.
How to Flip the Funnel - to take back control
The average player when playing badly, ends up rushing their shots, wanting to get the shot over quickly to remove the feeling of being uncomfortable. They stand behind the ball, eager to get the shot over and done with and end up, not giving themselves no time to think or work through the pre-shot routine.
Next time you find yourself in this position, when your game is not going to plan, STOP and reset the button in your mind. Clear the mechanism by picking the shot you want to play and then look down on the ground and pick a spot. Take a deep breathe in and as you exhale, let go of the stress. Now figure out what you want to do, look up and see the shot you want. Take a practice swing, feel the shot and as you do SPARK the THOUGHT, by externalising a secondary outcome e.g. I'm going to draw the ball down the right of the oak tree. Sparking the thought to a secondary outcome (an external point) is the secret. Now walk into the ball, address and let go as you take your shot.
Next time you find yourself playing badly, adopt a cue to flip the funnel. Don't become judgemental and accept your consequence by moving on to accepting the shot. Remember its impossible to control the outcome BUT if you do the right things and focus on your process, you increase the probability of improving that outcome.
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