So you may be wandering just what does the US Open Golf Tournament have to do with my game? Well if you want to play well in your own club competition it could have a lot to do with your success. When you go to the driving range to work on your swing and pound ball after ball it’s only one small part of practise. This is what is called the practise makes perfect method. But if you have played golf for any length of time you know that it simply isn’t the truth; practise doesn’t make perfect! Perfect practise makes perfect. So really you should be practising what is essential for you to play at your best. Your inner game of golf requires equal awareness.
In order to play well with the anxiety of pressure you need to practise under the same conditions. When the chips are down and you need to hit the shot of your life, the self imposed pressure felt increases 10 fold for most players . The trial by fire approach to improving your mental game of golf toughness and performing under pressure is a haphazard method. Yet it’s the only method that most amateur players know.
By entering more competitions and tournaments they have the false impression that this is going to improve their mental game and concentration skills. It just doesn’t work that way. So what do you think is the classic out come by following this process? Yes you guessed it; the vast majority of players never perform up to their own potential because they lack mental game preparedness.
Inevitably when they fail it’s chalked up to experience and they simply hope to be in a position to win again. This approach, if you can call it one, is the “natural” way. Just get in contention enough times and you’re sure to win. It’s a very haphazard mental game approach. Well this might be true, since a player will succeed eventually if they give themselves enough chances.
My belief is that the more times your put yourself in the position to win and fail, in actual fact what you are doing is increasing the likelihood that you will fail. It doesn’t make winning any easier! Why is this, lack of mental game training? Because the negative associations that are stacked in your subconscious mind around not performing well under pressure. It will drive your behaviour (your thought processes and the swings you make under stress). You will instinctively duplicate the experience of losing that you are accustomed to.
This a tough pill to swallow but if you ever want to become more than just a mediocre golfer then mental game training can save you months, and even years for some golfers, of pointless inner turmoil around pressure, performance anxiety, competitive stress and its influence on your game . Now what if you could recreate the pressure of the US Open in your practice sessions and then go and play with this mindset?
Now let’s say you have a mental game visualization routine that is filled with every imaginable pressure situation you could encounter. Do you think it would be safe to say that you are a few steps ahead of your competition? I believe you most certainly would be!
By feeling with your mind’s eye, not simply seeing, you can experience the exact pressure you’ll face in a tournament . Your unconscious mind will absorb these sessions and add them to your mental game library and integrate them into your golfing self image. They become real situations in your subconscious. With this approach you are providing your mind and body with sensory specific information about what pressure is to you and how to perform when it’s present .
This is in fact preparing your mind and body to react in a desire behaviour when the anxiety of tournament play is present. When you are at the range hitting golf balls imagine you are in the US Open. Give yourself only one shot to hit your desired target. Create a scoring structure to monitor how well you do when practising this way. crank-up the pressure by taking only one drive, then one iron, then a chip shot if you miss your imagined green with your approach shot. Pay attention to how well you perform this way.
If you want to speed up your mental game progress and begin to perform well under pressure then it’s imperative you simulate pressure in your practice sessions . What other way is there to get ready to face the inevitable? Do you honestly want to rely on the time worn approach of entering more and more tournaments and matches with the hopes of getting used to it? How much time money are you prepared to spend before you make the changes needed?
Take hold of your potential by developing a rock solid mental game. Your overall mindset on the course, your Mental Game of Golf toughness, your sense of clarity and inner confidence under the gun, and a list of other benefits will enter your game. Not just occasionally but for a lifetime. You will be absolutely amazed at how all the little distractions and rubs of the green that used to get under your skin and derail you don’t even enter your mind anymore.