How to Stop Focusing on Your Competitor
Do you see playing against top competition as a threat or a challenge?
Against top-tier golfers, are you able to rise to the occasion or does your game spiral downward?
Some golfers feel intimidated when paired with top competition. Playing against a rival or a golfer with a high ranking can be stressful for some golfers.
Nerves can be elevated when playing tough competition because there is so much time to be left alone with your thoughts and play out worst case scenarios in your mind.
One golfer in our golf survey requested help with the issue or difficulty of playing against tough competition:
“How do I play without feeling intimidated or self-conscious around certain people?”
You can image how this scenario unfolds…
You are paired with a golfer you have never beaten. Not only have you never beaten this golfer but you shoot uncharacteristically high scores against this golfer.
As soon as you see who is in your group, intimidation takes over. From the first tee shot, you are nervous and feel you are going to embarrass yourself AGAIN! Your anxiety skyrockets and your play plummets.
Your confidence is shot and all you can focus on is how great your competition is playing. You think, “I have no chance” and you have a repeat performance of all those other horrible rounds you had when paired with this golfer.
Feeling intimidated or self-conscious also happens at the PGA level. Twenty-two year old Collin Morikawa was faced with a similar scenario during Round One at the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open when he was paired with Tiger Woods. Not only was Morikawa ranked 49 spots lower than
Woods, Morikawa wasn’t even born when Woods made his pro debut.
MORIKAWA: “I had to tell myself to just focus on golf after that first hole because I could just focus on Tiger and watch him the entire day and realize I forgot how to play golf and that’s what I’m out here to do, I’m out here to win.”
The issue of feeling intimidated revolves around confidence and focus. It is not possible to focus on two different things at the same time, such as your opponent and your game. Focus is a one-or-the-other prospect.
The focus you choose affects three things:
1. How you feel
2. What you think
3. How well you play
Focusing on your competition who is an idol will create feelings of anxiety, intimidation and fear. Focusing on another golfer will lead to negative thoughts such as ‘I can’t’ and ‘I never’.
You can’t play your best golf when negative emotions and negative thoughts hold you back.
One way to overcome intimidation is to change your focus and your thought process.
Ask yourself, “What do I need to focus on right now to execute THIS shot?” This question will remind you of the most important task in front of you–hitting the current shot.
Be sure not to compare your skills or record to your opponent’s. This is a sure way to feel intimidated and lose confidence. Focus on your unique talents instead.
Improve Mental Preparation in Sports!
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- How to quickly identify distractions that sabotage your concentration and how to quickly refocus after distractions.
- How to use pre-shot routines before shots or serves to help you be more task-focused instead of worrying about results.
- How to use pregame routines to help you harness the power of zone concentration before competition.
Learn more about one of our most popular CD programs in The Confident Athlete Series…
What are customers saying about our mental game programs?
“As a result of reading and implementing ‘The Confident Athlete Series,’ I am once again enjoying golf and letting bad shots roll off my shoulders and appreciating my good shots without attaching expectations. Thanks Dr. Cohn!”
~Stu Blasius, P.G.A. Golf Professional
“Your response to the throwing problem in front of the coach covers so many situations in life…that is the beauty of playing sports…the life learning experiences. Keep up the good work…you are the best mental coach.”
~Bill Brennan, sports parent