Pressure in Golf, the US Open and Your Golf Game
Pressure in golf - What does the US Open have to do with your game? Well, if you want to play well under pressure it should have everything to do with it. We all experience pressure in golf at some point.
When you practice and simply focus on your swing and blasting balls at the range, this is only one small aspect to true practice. You are using the practice makes perfect
Yet if you've golfed for any length of time you know this simply isn't true: practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes permanent. So practice what is really necessary to play at your peak.
Your mental game requires equal attention. To play well with the pressure in golf you must practice with pressure. When the chips are down and you need to hit the shot of your life, the self imposed pressure increases 10 fold for most players.
Most players do not have a strategy on how to deal with pressure in golf -Do you?
The trial by fire approach, to improving your mental toughness and performing under pressure, is a haphazard method. Yet this is all most people know.
They just enter more tournaments and matches with the hopes that by being in more events they will "acquire" the mental toughness and concentration skills to deal with the pressure. Sound familiar?
What do you see happen most of the time with this typical approach? Most players don't perform to their own potential in the key moments when everything is on the line. Then they chalk it up to experience and hope to get in the position to win again. This is how most players deal with the pressure in golf.
This strategy, if you can call it one, is the "natural" way. Simply get in contention enough times and you're bound to win. Ok, this might be true, since a player will win eventually if they give themselves enough chances.
Knock on the Door Enough Times...
I am going to say something that few, if any, coaches would say. For one, my peak performance system approaches things from a very unique perspective, and for another, it's some serious tough love. Not the warm fuzzies that do our games a disservice by making us feel good about an area of our game that is in serious need of attention.
I want to submit to you that the more times you are in contention and don't win, that what you are in fact doing is increasing the likelihood of losing again, not of making winning easier. Why is this?
Because the negative associations that are stacked in your unconscious mind around not performing well under pressure will drive your behavior (your thought processes under pressure and your swing). Hence you will unconsciously reproduce the experience of losing that you became accustomed to.
When the pressure is on we unconsciously act out the behaviors we have habituated the most.
So to cope with the pressure in golf we naturally revert to what we know at the deepest level. To what is most real to us in the moment.
These are tough pills to swallow but if you want real and lasting change then mental preparation can save you months, and even years of needless inner turmoil. You can master your experience around pressure and its influence on your performance.
What if you could recreate the pressure of the US Open into your practice sessions and then go and play golf with this mindset? What if your practice included a mental imagery process that mirrored any and every pressure filled situation you can think of, and incorporated it into your practice routine?
Add the pressure of the US Open to your practice sessions
Top Olympic athletes habituate mental imagery into every practice session and their pre-event preparation. By "feeling" with your mind's eye, not simply "seeing", you can experience the same pressure you'll face in a tournament.
Your unconscious mind will absorb these sessions and add them to your mental library and integrate them into your self image. These become real events to your mind.
With this approach you are providing your mind and body with sensory specific information about what pressure in golf is to you, and how to perform when it is present. You are, in very real terms, preparing your mind/body to act and perform in a desired way when under pressure.
So imagine you are in the US Open when at the range hitting balls. Warm up as you do, then give yourself only one shot to hit your desired target. Create a scoring system to monitor how well you perform this way.
Increase 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.
Practicing with pressure strengthens your mental game
If you want to accelerate your mental game progress and begin to perform well under pressure, then it's imperative you simulate pressure in your practice. How else are you going to prepare for the inevitable?
Do you honestly want to rely on the time worn method of entering more and more tournaments and matches with the hopes of getting used to it? How much time and money are you prepared to lose before you make the changes necessary?
Take hold of your potential by developing a rock solid mental game. Your overall mindset on the course, your mental 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.
Learn how to not only "deal" with pressure in golf but how to completely transform your relationship to pressure and hit your best shots when under the gun. Playing your best can become a habit. Yet mastering pressure in golf is a critical step.
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