When you watch the best players in the world perform to the best of their ability – and under the most extreme tournament pressure – they are playing without fear. Their body language is positive and strong, their focus is laser-like, and their attitude is one of, “Yes, I’ve prepared for this goal, and I’m going to trust in my ability to execute on every shot”.
In contrast, when you you approach each shot with a mindset of what could go wrong and fear the worst outcome – as many amateurs often do – you are in for a long, frustrating day on course. In our opinion, your attitude and belief system have a significant effect on your performance.
Here are some strategies to help you develop a great attitude and self-belief, so you can perform at the peak of your ability when you play or compete.
Set your golfing goals
We highly recommend you schedule an appointment with your golf instructor to devise an inspiring but realistic game or training plan for the upcoming year. When setting your goals, consider where your game is and the time you’ll have available to practice and play. That will give meaning to your practice time and ultimately translate into more confidence and enjoyment on the golf course, knowing you put forth a purposeful effort to improve.
Practice under pressure
If you want to overcome fears and weaknesses on the golf course – and turn them into strengths – you need to consistently simulate pressure-filled situations during practice. Doing so will help you learn how to cope with your fears so you can take your best stuff from the range to the course.
For instance, if you fight a big slice, practice hitting shots from the left side of the tee, aiming down the right side of the driving range. Then visualize hitting draws back back toward the center of the range. By aiming more down the right side, you’ll force yourself to abandon your old, comfortable slice tendencies at address (aiming too far left to allow for your slice) and pressure yourself into swinging more in-to-out to encourage the draw you visualized.
Watch your pre-game mental movie
Good golfers know how to motivate themselves in ways that produce their best performance on the course. One common practice is the use of positive visualization through a “pre-game mental movie”. This is fantastic way to create a clear and vivid image in your mind of what it looks and feels like to perform at your best when you actually play.
Run this “movie” over and over again in your mind before you leave for the course, or on the drive there. When you stand on the 1st tee, you’ll then feel as though you’ve already been there and done that.
Taking 5 to 10 minutes prior to your round to visualize what it feels like to play and perform your best gives you confidence and often leads to the very results you hopped for.
Develop a consistent pre-shot routine
If you watch the world’s best players, they all have a distinct pre-shot routine. Usually, it’s short in duration (20-25 seconds) and consistent. And they use it to clear the mind and focus solely on the shot and task at hand. Meticulously developing and rehearsing the steps of a good routine can give you confidence a real boost and distract you from negative thinking.
Prior to your pre-shot routine, take time to think the shot through. Consider the conditions- the lie, yardage, and wind – and then determine the club, the shot selection, and the most ideal spot to land the ball. But give yourself some margin for error. If you miss the target, you want to know the best spot to miss. Remember, even the top p[layers aren’t perfect, especially with long irons and fairway woods.
Once you’ve decided on your target, be specific and decisive on your focus point, as this also helps eliminate any negative distractions. Finally, visualize the entire shot in your mind – the shape, trajectory, landing spot, and roll.
After the shot is struck, learn to accept the result and move on. If you hit a poor shot, a great strategy is to assume a strong posture and clear your mind. Focus on enjoying everything else on the course has to offer, including the beautiful surroundings, the fresh air, and the sociability of your playing partners. Remember, you could be stuck at the office.
Practice polishing your pre-shot routine until it becomes second nature. Getting it right will do more for your game than thinking about your score or negative outcomes. by starting each round with a great attitude, complemented by positive body language, you’ll learn to become more process-focused and improve the consistency of your execution.