In blog 27, I introduced “Be a Player” from Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriot. Today I’d like to delve a bit deeper. Lynn said “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”. So you’re not Tiger Woods or Georgia Hall – you’re you!
Now that does not mean we can’t learn from these great players but whatever we learn we need to adapt to suit our physical limitations (ability to rotate, etc) or mental toughness – can we cope with TV cameras and thousands of fans – maybe not. Nevertheless, we could decide on a programme of stretching to achieve a full shoulder turn, and manage our mental state a little better than we do right now.
The ladies suggest that in typical 4 hour round, we only spend 30-45 mins actually hitting shots. The remaining 3hours plus is both an opportunity or a threat.
Sometimes we play poorly and get down on ourselves, disappearing into our shells and searching for something to get our golf games back on track. More and more swing thoughts – more and more playing in our heads. The language we use both outwardly and inwardly might be quite damaging as we beat ourselves up for such poor performance.
Conversely we could start the round by being “grateful” for the opportunity to play. Grateful for the friendships, great scenery, fresh air and exercise a chance to “smell the roses”
If we do hit a poor shot what were we aware of and therefore what did we learn? What could we commit to on the next shot? Can we still manage to squeeze a point out of the hole with a chip and a putt?
Managing your state
When you play really well, how would do you feel? Relaxed, even tempered – engaged?
When you play poorly how do you feel? Anxious, tense – angry?
These are choices lust like road rage – no one makes you angry, you decide to get angry!
Use up too much “energy” getting angry or upset will mean there’s less left for your shot making.
So only you can decide how you deal with a poor bounce, lie or swing. It’s ok to get angry for say 10 seconds, but then just get on and deal with it!
If you hit a poor shot and your head drops, it sends a signal to your brain that you are no longer interested. In match play it also sends a clear message to your opponent and gives them even more encouragement. Next time you hit a less than satisfactory shot, maintain your head height – look at the horizon. Your golf brain will assume you want to make good and complete the hole as best you can.
The power of breathing
I won a competition last month. Started strongly so knew I was in with a chance. Rather than fast forward to my winning speech, I took lots of deep breathes to stay relaxed. It worked and I won
When putting my pre-shot routine is to pick a line (picture something on the back of the hole for example) take a deep breath, let it out and then make the stroke straight away. This routine keeps my putting stroke smooth and relaxed. It also helps to keep my mind relatively calm (If I‘m focused on the breath, there’s no room for swing thoughts too).
Be yourself; be aware of your limitations and your strengths. Manage your emotional state when you play golf well or poorly. Be “grateful” as you never know – today could be your last game ever – so make sure you enjoy it!
If you’d like to discuss any of the techniques above, feel free to contact me.
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