Achieve Peak Performance: Go with the Flow, Play your Own Game

March 06, 2013

I wonder how many golfers, clay shooters or other athletes have considered that in order to achieve peak performance, they need to learn how to: ‘Go with the Flow’ and ‘Play their Own Game’?  Professional athletes understand that if they want to play well, they must practice their skills and mechanics.  They put a great deal of emphasis on practicing mechanics by seeking instruction to improve them, or gadgets to help make their mechanics better.  Of course that is important, but equally important is the need to improve the mental side of their game.  Athletes typically spend too little time on the mental side and fail to realize that if they truly want to achieve peak performance, they must practice mechanics and improve the mental side of their game equally.  Both aspects are vitally important.

If you do not clear your mind before starting a game, or even taking a single shot, your mind will very likely muck it up and prevent you from achieving peak performance.  If your mind is not right with you in the moment as you attempt to play, your game will fall apart.  The mental side of your game is really important, but is often not ‘practiced’ to the same extent as mechanics.  Learning ways to practice, build skills, and perfect the mental side of your game or sport will bring you to a much greater level of performance.  It will help you achieve the peak performance you desire.

To help illustrate the importance of your mental game to achieving peak performance, I am going to describe one of the many tips you will find in my Golf Product.  Although you receive a lot more information when buying the actual product, I feel this particular suggestion will really help get your mind going in a positive direction that you can start applying right away.

One of the ways you can improve the mental skills necessary to achieve peak performance, is by applying the following statement to each and every game:

“I start every single round with a clear mind, confident – ready to go with the flow.  I apply knowledge I have gained along the way – I play my own game and get creative.”

To say you should “start every single round with a clear mind” sounds simple enough, right?  Well, you not only need to start every round that way, but each time you approach your next shot you need to have a clear mind if you want to achieve peak performance.  You definitely have to start the whole game or event with a clear mind, with no expectations or mental chatter that says:  “I am not going to do very well here, since I did not do well here last year”, or:  “I have not played very well the last couple of weeks/yesterday, so I probably will not play well again today”.  If you say to yourself:  “I am afraid I will not do well on this particular hole” as you approach your shot, you probably will not do well.  One important area of your mental skill set is to clear your mind before that round, hole or station, or your mental chatter will lead to a lack of confidence that will cause your overall performance level to drop.

Confidence is another key factor to achieving peak performance.  Having a strong level of confidence when you enter a round or station, or even just start your day, is important in everything you do if you want to achieve peak performance.  You build confidence through the continual practice and mastery of your skills, and you carry that with you into every game or shot.  If you lack confidence in your abilities, for whatever reason, your performance will suffer.  You cannot go into a game doubting your ability to perform well.  Confidence is very important to achieving peak performance.

Although clearing your mind and being confident in your abilities are two concepts that people can grasp pretty easily, being “ready to go in the flow” kind of stirs up a lot of people.  In talking with many athletes, I would say they have an energy of forcefulness and power, or a strong drive to ‘make things happen’ and ‘give it their all’.  Those attitudes, thoughts and beliefs are ego driven and carry a feeling of ‘yeah, I’m going to give 110% and make this happen according to how I think it should happen’; which does not take into account true reality.  Environmental factors, other players, your own varying degree of how well you might be playing that day, or even how well you slept, all impact your ability to achieve peak performance.  The ability to be ‘ready to go in the flow’ sets your ego driven self aside and allows your body to perform what you are confident it can do, no matter what circumstances exist as you play.

At any given time, you need to be present in the moment and able to ‘go with the flow’, if you want to achieve peak performance.  To ‘go with the flow’ means, no matter what is happening around you, you can be calm and accepting of it and do what you need to do.  If you do not ‘go with the flow’ and instead try to force your will to ‘make it happen’, you will end up feeling like you are on an emotional roller coaster if things do not go exactly the way you would like.  That way of thinking is charged with a lot of emotion and forcefulness, which can easily stress or upset you.  Your performance is then likely to suffer the harder you try to ‘make it happen’, whereas remaining calm and “going with the flow” increases your ability to achieve peak performance.

Now, let us look at ‘applying the knowledge you have gained along the way’.  All those times you hit your ball off the fairway or put it in the water; or maybe when you missed the rabbits or tower shots, all those times were huge opportunities for learning and growth.  Do all players take advantage of those opportunities?  Unfortunately, the answer is no.  What typically happens is that people get so upset ‘the bad shot’ happened at all, they do not allow themselves to receive the full potential of the growth, understanding and knowledge that is right there.  They may not have achieved peak performance in a ‘bad shot’, but they can learn from it and use what they learn to make better shots and improve their performance in the future.

People constantly evolve and learn every day of their lives, and can use that learning to achieve peak performance.  They constantly mold themselves through learning experiences or by making ‘mini-mistakes.’  I should not say mini-mistakes, necessarily, but unexpected or unwelcomed experiences that help us learn something new – if we let them.  When glass-top stoves came out, for example, we all had to learn that a burner could be off but the top would still be too hot to touch if the indicator light was on.  We may have gotten too close or even touched the top and felt pain from the hot burner underneath, but the next time we saw the stove burners off and that light still on, we probably stayed away from it to avoid injury.  Although this is not a sport-related example, it clearly shows our brain’s ability to learn something very important through an unpleasant experience that ultimately improved our life in some way as a result.  Same theory applies in sports if we allow our brains to seek the lesson learned instead of brooding over the fact that we missed the peak performance we were shooting for.

We all have this great brain that is able to process information and learn, and that helps us achieve peak performance.  At some point, people learn by accidentally making the mistake of getting too close or touching a hot stove.  Once that happens, people usually do not make that mistake again; it was a great opportunity for learning.  Now take that example and apply the same way of thinking to your sport.   Rather than getting upset when you miss a shot, go ahead and really look for what you can learn from it instead of continually getting burned.  As you start to ‘apply all the knowledge you have gained along the way’, not only will you pay closer attention to every moment in the game, but you will start to achieve peak performance.

Now, what does it mean when I end the statement by saying: “I play my own game and get creative”?  It really represents a whole other level of peak performance for you.  Your ‘own game’ is when you have so much confidence in yourself, your choices and your abilities, that you start having a little fun with it again.  You look around and say to yourself:  “this is my game, I own this.”  You understand what works for you and you trust your abilities, club choices, where you want to break the bird, etc.  You play your own game and do not have to watch another golfer or look at what club they choose, how they do it, or let it bother you if they choose something different than you would.  In shooting, you don’t have to look at where somebody else is breaking the bird or how they choose to shoot the pair.  You can play your own game with your own confidence, skills set and abilities; honor them to play a game that is powerful for you as you achieve peak performance.

For you to get creative, you have to recognize that you have lots of confidence, clarity and knowledge behind you.  I say ‘get creative’ because when you understand who you are, your capabilities and what you bring to that moment, you have the freedom to get creative with it all – to make your mark or insert your own style.  You can confidently and creatively assess your game to identify your own unique way of doing it that helps you achieve peak performance, while still having fun.  What a great way to play!

So start every single round with a clear mind and confidence, ready to go with the flow, and apply the knowledge you have gained along the way while you play your own game and get creative.  That is a really powerful suggestion with lots of information behind it that will help you achieve peak performance.  Practice is key with regard to your mechanics and mental training, and I am happy to help you achieve that peak performance as you apply what I have described to your own game.  I have worked with many athletes and helped them achieve greater performance levels than they ever had before.  I really welcome the opportunity to do that for you as well.

If you find yourself reading my other articles, taking advantage of the products and services I offer, or generally trying to pull the many elements together on how to improve your mental abilities, you should start to see yourself making significant progress toward achieving peak performance.  If you need any extra help along the way, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I am confident that I can help you achieve peak performance as you learn to Go With The Flow and Play Your Own Game.  Be clear, confident, calm and creative, and have an amazing day!

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