How to Have a Competitive Mindset
When playing in a tournament, do you consistently score worse than you expected? Are you not rising to meet the challenge?
Are you feeling frustrated that your game seems to have hit a plateau and you just can’t seem to find a way to break out?
Did you consider getting a new set of clubs, looking for a new golf instructor to dissect on your swing or purchased some new gadget that promises to “fix” your swing?
You might see a slight improvement in your game, but eventually slip back and become frustrated by low scores. Notwithstanding, these quick fixes may help with slight improvements but often are not long-term solutions.
What’s the solution to this troublesome problem? What can help you turn your game around and help you to score better in competitive rounds?
The solution lies in your mindset.
Many golfers have two distinct mindsets: a practice mindset and a competitive mindset. The hope is that a golfer can flip the switch when playing in a competitive situation but rarely does that work.
Think of it in terms of habits… You practice much more than you compete, so which mindset do you think becomes ingrained into a habit? The practice mindset!
To be competitive, you need to practice like you compete.
That doesn’t mean abandoning working on your golf swing. When you are trying to improve technique, you should focus on those elements of your swing.
However, when you are playing a practice round, play with a competitive mindset. In other words, play practice rounds in the same manner as you want to compete; use the same preshot routine, stay focused on the current shot and forge your competitive mindset.
In that way, when the pressure is on in tournaments, it doesn’t feel like an overwhelming experience.
No. 2 ranked PGA golfer Rory McIlroy thinks being on top of your game is more than working on your mechanics. McIlroy believes the key to improved performance is to practice against slightly better competition. This is an excellent strategy to develop a competitive mindset.
McILROY: “I think for me, I was always the youngest to play, whether it be at my home golf club or in competitions. So I was always playing with people that were better than me, and I think that–even my caddie now, Harry, he’s basically five years older than me, and he was a very good player, and I always played with him. So Harry was always better than me growing up as a kid, but that made me a better player because I saw what level I needed to get to.”
Practicing against slightly better competitors provides a challenge. It points to what you need to do to advance your game.
McILROY: “But I think it’s a wonderful piece of advice to find people that are better than you and to play with them, because it shows you what you need to do to get to that next level.”
Challenge yourself. When you rise up to meet those challenges, your game improves dramatically.
Practicing for a Competitive Mindset:
Set up a round with a golfer slightly better than you. It can be a practice round or a putting challenge.
Treat this practice round as you would a tournament round, which means playing for score, not practicing golf swing.
Avoiding over thinking your swing or analyzing misses, Get your scoring hat on.
Remember, perfect practice makes perfect. Playing golf is much more than beating balls on the range.
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