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  • Carol Alford

How to Recover

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I often get asked by players "how do I recover after a bad shot? I find it so hard to let go". You might be surprised to hear that hitting a bad shot is not the problem. Find that hard to believe then let me ask you "have you ever played a round of golf without hitting a bad shot?"  I think I can confidently guess the correct answer to that one! Have you ever watched another golfer play a mistake-free round? Well heck no I hear you cry and I can guarantee there will also be some humdingers this weekend as the world's best players take part in The Masters. Its all part of the game of golf, - that we love and hate in equal measure. So why is it that for many players, bad shots can stick around, just like a horrible lingering smell? In some cases, you can even see images of yourself unraveling even before it happens.  We've all experienced that feeling of dread, as anxiety takes hold and you feel your heart pounding in your chest. Where several distractions have been competing for your attention, causing you to focus on the negative images, or where not to play your next shot.  Sadly when you're focused on the feeling of anxiety, its impossible to immerse yourself in the current shot. When you are focused on the last shot, you will find it incredibly difficult to focus on the shot in hand.  Putting the shot fully behind you, requires total focus in the here and now. In other words, you need to be thinking about what do I need to do, how do I need to do it and when. Bryson DeChambeau, the favourite to win The Masters this week,  learnt the crucial skill of refocusing in his win at the 2020 US Open. After his opening round he was completely frustrated at not being able to sink his putts, coming off tied for 14th place, shouting ""These greens suck. They're so bad." He went on to shoot a 67 (3 under), to win his first major championship by refocusing. In his interview later he said, "On 9 was when I first thought, 'OK, this could be a reality.' I made that long eagle putt and shocked myself making it, too. I thought to myself I could do it, and then immediately after I said, 'Nope, you gotta focus on each and every hole.' I just kept telling myself 'Nope, we've got three more holes, we've got four more holes, we've got five more holes.' Whatever it was, I just had to keep focused, make sure I was executing every shot the best I possibly could." All golfers have the same choice, to take control of their mental game, but to do so, you have to make a conscious choice to focus. This can be to focus on your strategy or your pre-shot routine, whatever you chose it has to be something that keeps you grounded in the present. As soon as you find yourself performing badly, the choice is yours to refocus your attention on what matters - the current shot. How Can I Refocus After a Poor Shot:

  1. Become aware of your triggers or mistakes that get your upset during the round - make a note of them, actually writing them down brings it to your attention.

  2. Be realistic with your expectations, we have a handicap for a reason e.g I should never 3 putt from 20 feet. Replace it with even the best golfers can 3 putt ( I guarantee we will see some at The Masters). Missing this time does not make me a bad putter

  3. Let go of the emotion it will not serve you well, it will only distract your focus. Remind yourself "let it go, lets get back in the flow." Try doing a Tiger Woods, imagine a 10 foot imaginary line ahead, as soon as you step over it let the emotion go, or try releasing your anger with a slow deep exhale 

  4. Reset and follow your pre-shot routine. Having a routine to go to for each shot, will keep you focused on the process, which in turn will keep you focuse on the current shot. 

Take control of your reaction to mistakes, accept them as part of the game. One thing for sure mistakes will happen, but you have the choice how to react - Make it the right choice!


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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Staffordshire, DE14 3GZ, UK

Tel: (+44) 7890 528119 

Email: carol.alford@alfordprojects.co.uk

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