The Masters Mental Game
The Masters shows us the real power of a sound mental game year after year. While on the surface we see great shots and many not so great ones, it's what we don't see that underlies each and every shot taken at the Masters.
I want to draw your attention to the foundation of peak performance in golf: the preshot routine. Watch your favorite player and as many as you care to focus on, and notice the length of time they spend in their routine. Not only how long they spend preparing, but the sequence of repetitive behaviors within their routine.
Did he alter it in anyway as the tournament wears on? Did he take one extra look prior to swinging which isn't his typical preshot routine? This golf tournament will test a players mental game completely. Especially on the back nine on Sunday.
The Masters comes down to the Mental Game
The ability to make the key shot under pressure at the important moments in the Masters is what separates the winners from the "also-rans". This ability stems from a rehearsed inner calm and confidence. How does a player access it when he needs it? The preshot routine.
Your mental game resources become available time and time again when our rehearsed routine is repeated in exactly the same way regardless of the situation. The repetitive behavior instructs the subconscious to produce all those swings you've been practicing over the years.
If you watched Greg Norman that fateful Sunday in 1996 when he gave up a 7 stroke lead at the Masters to lose to Nick Faldo, you'll have noticed his routine break at certain points in the round. When you break your preshot routine your subconscious is receiving a different message from your conscious mind. This confusion and uncertainty produces the corresponding results in his swing.
Let things flow and you'll go low
Is playing in the Masters different from playing a casual round at your local course? Of course it is, yet to the players who consistently perform well under "apparent pressure" it doesn't feel that way! They have built the proper foundation for the mental game to guide the way. They absolutely, unerringly commit to their preshot routine. The word is commit. Trust.
I'll never forget Jack Nicklaus when sitting in the commentators booth at a tournament he was in. A player was putting for the win with about a 10 foot putt and Jack was asked if he how he handled final putt pressure and putting to win and he said, "I feel more pressure up here watching this than I do when I'm the one putting. I'm just there focused on holing it." Impressive mindset.
When you know you'll commit to your routine you are free up to simply play golf. This is the critical part of this conversation: You are able to play within the state of flow where your inner resources are immediately consistently present. You are playing the game in the "moment". Not becoming overwhelmed by "what things mean" or "what will happen if I make/don't make this shot".
Watch your favorite player and notice their routine as you watch the Masters this week. I assure you you'll notice some interesting things on the back nine on Sunday. Understanding your own mental game really allows you to appreciate what top players experience while playing competitive golf. Enjoy learning more about the masters mental game.
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