How can you shut down the negativity and self-doubt during competitive rounds?
Many golfers point to negativity as their biggest obstacle on the golf course. It is impossible to achieve your potential when you are mentally immersed in negativity.
In our Golf Mental Game Survey, a golfer who has been frustrated with their lack of results asked the following question:
“How do I overcome negativity on the golf course? When I’m playing against talented golfers, I expect the worst from myself.”
Every golfer has experienced bouts of negativity. Some golfers are negative from the very first tee shot, while others are adversely affected after a few bad shots. No matter when the negativity starts, it has the same detrimental impact on your performance.
Negativity and counterproductive self-talk affect performance in several ways:
* Negativity interferes with making sound decisions such as club choice, reading the greens, and lining up the shot.
* Negativity increases muscle tension in your neck, shoulders, back, and forearms, altering your mechanics and throwing off your swing.
* Negativity makes focusing difficult as your mind becomes consumed with fear of failing and self-doubts.
* Negativity chips away at your confidence and breaks trust in your skills.
* Negativity leads to performance-diminishing emotions such as anger, frustration, and resignation.
However, you don’t have to succumb to negativity…
LPGA golfer Amy Yang has played on the Tour for 16 seasons. At the 2023 CME Group Tour Championship, Yang won her first LPGA title since 2019.
Yang has admittedly battled with negativity in the past, especially when the pressure is on.
However, Yang has learned to shut down the internal negativity talk. Yang was focused and mentally tough down the stretch, where she birdied the last two holes to win by three strokes.
Longtime coach Tony Ziegler commented on Yang’s mental transformation and her ability to maintain a positive perspective while playing in the big moments.
ZIEGLER: “Back in the day… [Yang] had a lot of pressure and expectation, and she didn’t know how to deal with it. As she’s gotten older, she knows how to deal with it. She’s just at ease with herself, no pressure, no expectation. Basically playing for herself.”
Like Yang, you can learn to shut down negativity while playing golf.
One way is to stay present as much as possible. The goal is not to let past shots upset you or worry about what “might happen in the future. To focus on the present, you can use a cue word, such as “present,” to center your attention.
You can immerse yourself in the moment just before your shot by focusing on a pre-shot routine. A consistent pre-shot routine will help you calm your mind, relax your body, and give your full attention to the task at hand.
Maintaining a positive attitude, or even neutral, is essential for peak performance and just enjoying the game of golf.
Ultimately, you want to prevent negativity from becoming an issue before you start competing.
Two ways to squash pre-round negativity are establishing attainable goals, such as the number of fairways and greens you want to hit. You also want to manage outcome expectations and not focus on target scores.
These two strategies will help you manage anxiety and keep your emotions in check.
Do you suffer from fragile self-confidence after missed hitting shots or making mistakes, playing with strict or high expectations that undermine confidence, or the inability to play freely and relaxed on the course?
If you lack focus, have low self-confidence or other mental game obstacles on the course, you cant reach your true golf potential…
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- Playing Golf One Shot at a Time
- Your Expectation Affects Your Golf Game
- How Short-term Goals Helps You Focus
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