Fear in Golf Causes Tension
Your worry or fear of failure in golf is linked in some form to your ego. Perhaps you feel that losing means you are a loser or that bad games make you a bad person in other golfers eyes? Fear of humiliation is an emotion to be taken seriously as it is a very powerful motivator and will cause real tension in our bodies when they need to be relaxed and flowing naturally. I can assure you that you are not your bad shots. Messing up does not make you a bad person in any way, just human.
1st tee Nerves Kill Performance
You walk onto the 1st tee in the monthly medal, club championship or maybe it is your weekly match with your friends and you do not want to mess up in front of everyone by hitting a poor shot. Maybe you have a bad shot you have hit before or you just do not want to start out with an embarrassing hack, skull or slice into the rubbish. Tension is building as your mind and body prepare to defend themselves against humiliation.
Pressure Putt on the 18th to Win
You have had a tough match against your opponents and the lead has gone back and forth or perhaps you were well behind an have managed to fight back fantastically to take it to the 18th. Now here you are on the green and all you need is 2 putts to win but you are 30ft away and memories of 3 putting are drifting around in your head. You are thinking hard and trying to not 3 putt, just get it close so it is given. The tension in your body is increasing as you worry about not closing out the match and choking on the 18th green.
Staying in the Present there is No Fear
In the present there is no fear because in the present there is no outcome of a shot. If you are fully absorbed in the present moment then you will have no thoughts about what might happen, as that is the future which has not yet happened. To be fully present means that you will have no thoughts about what happened in the past, a missed 2 footer, slice out of bounds, so past poor performances will not affect you. It is not possible to have any fear or worry when you are fully in the present and this is why it is the perfect state to perform from.
Creating a Negative Future
Thinking about results is allowing your mind to go forward into the future. You are not focussed on the present moment and the present task but instead you are creating in your mind a future that has not happened yet. Thinking about the consequences of a missed putt or poor drive, you are creating a negative future, programming your mind to perform it and creating tension in your body as you think about a bad event happening to you. You become tense and uptight from where you are even more likely to hit the bad shot.
Creating a Negative Past
We can use our example of the 18th green needing a 2 putt from 30 feet to win or perhaps it is just a little 3 footer to win. You remember back to another green where you messed up and 3 putted from about the same distance or missed a short little putt that was almost a given. Your mind is remembering the disappointment, perhaps anger and now you are thinking about the possibility that it may happen again. Tension is rising as your mind body system prepares to defend against this negative event. You are going to be very tight and tense over this putt which makes it very likely you will stroke the ball badly. As you think about the poor putts, images are flowing through your mind of the putt you do not want and your unconscious mind will try to replicate those images.
Develop Pre Shot Routine
You must develop a very solid, regimented Pre Shot Routine for every shot you play in golf whether it is a 2 foot putt or a driver off the tee. Your routine must be repeated exactly every time so that it becomes a deeply ingrained habit that becomes so strong that you cannot play a shot without going through it. This habit for every shot will become like a little comfort blanket and help you to relax and fully focus on the steps in the routine. Fully focussed on the steps in the routine you are in the present.
Practice like you want to play
Never rake and hit golf balls because you are developing nothing but a practice hitting memory that has nothing to do with playing on the golf course. Your practice should resemble how you will play. Hit one shot at a time by first picking a precise target and then going through your entire pre-shot routine for each and every shot. Work on staying completely in the present by really concentrating on getting your grip, aim, stance and posture right and imagining your ball flight to the target. Hit different clubs at different targets pretending you are playing a round of golf.
Learn the Mental Game of Golf
There are many aspects of the Mental Game of Golf and it is both a fascinating and liberating subject to learn and put into practice both on and off the golf course. As you learn about the Mental Game and implement the correct thinking and tactics into your golf and life you will begin to get truly great results that may really surprise and delight you. You will learn to play with a new found confidence and get a great deal more pleasure form the great game.