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  • Writer's pictureCarol Alford

How to get psyched for competition

With the Masters on this week, several people have been asking me how do the players get psyched to play in competition? Some of my clients come to me and say they have nerves so bad that they literally feel sick standing on the first tee. Some people believe the way to deal with it is to follow superstitious rituals, such as wearing lucky socks or using the ball that they played a good round with. In reality none of this gives the player a greater chance of performing at their best, but if you're one of those people then good luck to you.

Champions however, know how to put their Game Face on; the routine required to psyche them up to play in competition. Rather than choking with fear, they have learnt how to take their performance anxiety - their scared energy - and turn it into excitement and confidence by following their GAME FACE ROUTINE. Each person has their own individual GAME FACE that is unique to them. Its origins lie hidden in the depths of your personality but rise to the surface in your behaviour.  Once you've identified it, it's as powerful as having a smooth swing or solid putting stroke.

To give you a clearer understanding of what I mean when I say GAME FACE, lets take 2 champion golfers and demonstrate. To start with I want you to think of Tiger Woods. He strides with confidence, his pace is quick, to match his swing. He walks quickly without much conversation. His mind is totally on the job. When his strike is off or poor, the anger rips through his body and engulfs him. Every shot is struck with detail, every putt read with precision, a player known for his mental toughness and resilience. He knows his GAME FACE and pays attention to it, using it to compete the best he can, no matter what the tournament.

Now think of Ernie Els, his GAME FACE is totally different to Tiger's. He strikes a different beat. Like his swing, his walk is slow and deliberate. He's quiet but steely determined. He's calm and serene, just like the swan on the water his exterior appears all relaxed and nerves of steel, but deep inside he has fire in his belly. His desire to win is just as strong as Tiger's, but it's not shown as openly in his behaviour. But just like Tiger he understands his GAME FACE and uses it to play his best.

Tiger and Ernie both great champions with contrasting GAME FACES. Knowing your game face and applying it on the course will give you the edge in competition. However I see so many golfers play blissfully unaware of their GAME FACE, instead they choose to focus on their score during the game, hoping that will make them play at their best. In reality all it does, is cause angst and frustration as they try to steer the ball without much success.

Knowing your GAME FACE allows you to tap into the mindset and physical state that helps make birdies, holing putts and stiffing approach shots to the pin easy. Knowing the GAME FACE recipe allows you the golfer  to surface and play your best, time and time again. Quite simply, its you bringing your personality to the golf course, your thoughts, feelings, actions and behaviours when you play at your best.

Want to know how to get your GAME FACE?

Start off by thinking about you at your very best. Consider one of your greatest rounds of golf or set of holes. Re-live and replay your performance. What does it look like? What does it feel like? Run a high definition video in your mind. Notice how you move, is it quick or slow. How do you hold yourself? Are you upbeat or downbeat? How would you describe yourself, as energetic or relaxed? Now take a look at your swing is the tempo fast or slow?

What's your character like, is it fiery or more chilled out? How do you walk between shots, strolling or quick paced? Now take a look at what your thinking. What are you saying to yourself? How are you feeling? 

All of these clues, go into creating your GAME FACE, if you would like to learn more and how to define yours, please contact me . I guarantee your game will be rewarded.

Enjoy watching the Masters and check out each player's GAME FACE

If you would like to learn more about the mental side of the game please get in touch or check out our other blogs, there's something in here for everyone.


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