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Handling Pressure

Monday, April 20, 2020

Whatever level of player you are, it’s natural to feel pressure when you play. Whether it's keeping a great round going, performing in an event, or not embarrassing yourself in front of friends, the pressure to perform is real for all players.

The two B’s to handling pressure: Breathing and Being Present

  1. Breathing: Jim Afremow, author of The Champion’s Mind, says, “Your breathing can become shallow when you feel angry or anxious. When this occurs, oxygen intake diminishes and muscle tension increases….simply prolonging exhalation regardless of inhalation length promotes the relaxation response.” There is a lot of good information on this topic. When pressure hits you the tendency is to tighten up. Focus on your breathing to reduce tension, relax, and focus.
  2. Being Present: Be in the moment. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself on the golf course, and start thinking about what should happen. This is a where a routine helps. Keep the same mental energy, the same process, on each shot. When the pressure comes, Afremow says, “Do not attempt to rid yourself of the anxiety, instead channel it into performing well.” I like this comment. Trying to expend a bunch of energy, acting like you don’t feel the pressure doesn’t help, you have to simply accept it and move forward.

For a great listen on the topic, here is Dr. Gio Valiante on the Earn Your Edge Podcast


The Mental Game

Thursday, April 16, 2020

“No! Awful! I’m terrible!”

Just about every golfer has uttered these words (or some variation) while on the golf course. Golf can be a frustrating game, but having a mentality that works for you is key to improving and enjoying your rounds. So what can you do to improve your mental game?

Let’s talk about 3 keys to improving your mental game.

  1. Visualization: Bob Rotella says it best in his book, Your 15th Club, “Jack Nicklaus used to talk about watching movies in his mind; it was part of his preshot routine…He would stand over a putt for as long as it took for the movie to show the ball going into the hole. To spectators, it appeared that he could ‘will’ the ball into the hole.” Visualize the moment and all its details. Visualize yourself relaxed but focused. Visualize the feel of a well struck shot, the shape of if, and it landing at your target.
  2. Feed the Beast: Rotella says, “The subconscious will try to give you what it thinks you want. If you’ve developed a subconscious self-image as a golfer who chokes in the clutch…” Let’s stop it there, I’m sure you get the point. How do you see yourself as a player?  There is an old saying of the two wolves fighting within you. One is angry (negative) and the other is joyful (positive). Who wins depends on who you feed? Feed the right beast!
  3. Develop your Preshot Routine: A routine is consistent, rhythmic, and comfortable. The goal of a routine is to progress you into the shot the same way every time. A unique aspect of a tour player is how exact their routine is, even down to the second (next time you’re watching golf take a timer to it). The routine has a rhythm to it. The other parts of your routine are exactly that, yours. Visualization, practice swings (or maybe not), and how you setup to the shot should all be in the name of consistency, comfort and rhythm. Dial in your routine this season.

Add these mental fundamentals to improve your game. To go further down this rabbit hole, check out our golf professional staff picks.

Books (staff picks):

  • "Golf is not a Game of Perfect & Your 15th Club" by Dr. Bob Rotella
  • "Fearless Golf" by Dr. Gio Valiante
  • "With Winning in Mind" by Lanny Bassham
  • "The Champion’s Mind" by Dr. Jim Afremow



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