It's been really good to get back out on the golf this week after several months layoff due to lockdown. I played with my family at the weekend and it was such a lovely afternoon, playing in the sun and enjoying the banter with some good shots thrown in. We all had a few stray shots too, the professional player in the group nearly taking my daughter and I out. It was absolute joy to be back out there and playing again. Like many clubs we are setting up our competitions to start in the coming weeks, which has led to some interesting conversations. Returning to competitive golf after not playing for many months will be something I'm sure many of you will be thinking about with some trepidation. For many players the added pressure of being drawn in competition with elite players can also be intimidating, in fact I've know ladies refuse to enter for this very reason. Personally I enjoy playing with scratch golfers, I find it brings my game on and I enjoy watching how they make shots and decisions during their game. So how do you perform when you are playing with strong competition? Do you feel nervous and fearful when playing against very good golfers, or are you able to maintain your confidence and play your best golf?" If you are the former and find it intimidating, then hopefully this week's blog will help you. If you find yourself focusing on other golfers and their level of play, you will most likely feel anxious, making it difficult to focus on your game. When this happens you tend to find yourself making comparisons with the other golfers. This can take many forms such as frequently looking at the leaderboard or focusing on the final scores and extrapolating what you need to shoot to be in contention. Sadly I've seen players being drawn into this mental frenzy, rather than focusing on their game. If a player makes a birdie they feel the pressure to do so also. Their attention is drawn to forcing a perfect shot every time - which of course we know is impossible to maintain. This pressure inevitably leads to more errors as they try to control the shots resulting in their confidence taking a nose dive. Reacting to all of these distractions, makes it nigh on impossible to focus on your game and feeds the beast of doubt. If any of these scenarios sound familiar to you then here's how to take control of your game and build your confidence; 1. Be prepared - Preparation includes paying attention to both your physical and mental game. When you go to to the range to practice include mental exercises in your regime along with your technical routines. e.g Practice your pre-shot routine before hitting the ball or visualise the shot you want to play before hitting. 2. Focus on your game - Focusing on the scores of other golfers will not improve your score at all and you can't control what they will score. In fact, focusing on the scores of your competitors will interfere with your ability to play your best golf, as your attention isn't on the shot you're about to play. 3. Let go of results - Stay grounded in what's going on in the moment. Focus on planning and playing the best shot in front of you. Narrowing your focus will prevent the wave of distractions that can knock you off your game. 4. Understand the game remains the same - No matter the level of competition the rules are the same for all players. You still play with the same sized ball with the goal of hitting the ball into a hole. It's the same game you have always played. 5. Use your handicap - Your handicap is there to give you a level playing field. You don't have to force a score play within yourself. Use your shots wisely you don't have to try and birdie or par every hole. By putting each round of golf into perspective, you stay calm and improve your ability to play confident golf. When Playing Against Top Golfers: Stop focusing on what the competition has. Instead, focus on your talents and strengths. Think: "I've paid my dues too--so I have just as much right to be here right now." Get caught up in your game and course management--instead of what golfers are shooting in the group. 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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