April’s Theme is Peak Sports Performance
Do you feel comfortable with your swing, putting and ball position, and know that you are learning what works for you every time you golf? Do you realize how important it is to believe that about yourself? If you are lacking in that area and easily taken out of the present moment, then it is quite possible for the mental aspect of the game to take you to a level of frustration, anxiety, worry, fear, regret, or any number of those types of feelings that inhibit your mechanics. Practicing your mental skills, however, will help you come to a place of confidence, trust and understanding that you need, in order to feel comfortable with the mental part of your game. So obviously if you are working hard to build your mechanics and perfecting your skills, the last thing you want is for your mental skills to be lacking and subsequently inhibiting your mechanics. But that is exactly what happens much of the time.
I have no doubt that you can think about lots of occasions and examples in your career or sport where your attitude, mental focus, anger, agitations, stress or worry have caused you to not perform very well. So ideally, then, you need to maintain an understanding and control of the mental aspect of any sport, job, project or activity in which you participate. You must perfect not only your mechanical skills, but also your mental skills. Most people believe they can do that to some degree, but what I have witnessed is people going into an event just hoping they can hold it together mentally. They hope to stay focused and present but have no true understanding of how to do it. Even if they understand what it means to be focused and present, they often lack the skills necessary to be that way. That can frustrate them even more.
What I’m looking at here are specific mental skills you can practice throughout the day. Practicing those skills in your life and sport will help you get lots of time building, reinforcing and perfecting them. That way, when the big event does come, you won’t just hope you can pull it together mentally or hope to stay focused. You can exercise a skill you have had time to practice building. So I am really talking about building that skill all the time. Then when game day comes, you aren’t hoping for it to be something that it isn’t.
In order to help you get started, let’s look at an affirmation that I have taken from some of my products. You will find it in the Perfect Putting and Golf Confidence training, which you can get from the store on my website. Although it may seem to apply specifically to golf, mental skills for golf are basically the same as in other sports. All you need to do is change some terminology, and you can apply this to any sport or specific mental skill development. So the affirmation is: “I am comfortable with my swing, putting and ball position, and each day I am perfecting – learning what works for me”.
I came up with this suggestion as I recognized a lot of frustration in the golfers I worked with. They were frustrated because they believed they should be further along in their performance from all the practice and everything they were doing. They believed they should play perfectly. They left no allowance in their minds for a few poor shots or of making mistakes. Those things brought about a level of agitation that came from a place of “that shouldn’t happen at all, as much as I have practiced and worked on that.” That way of thinking is really a lie; a misconception. There is no perfect.
What you see, though, is that the ego gets involved and believes that things should go exactly as it believes it should – period! It doesn’t allow for much variance. That’s why many golfers have no level of acceptance or realization that they would experience fluctuations. How about you? Do you allow for the possibility of variables that can affect your skills come game time? Look at something as simple as how well you sleep the night before as an element that plays a significant part in your performance. You can go to the extreme and think of sleep deprivation and look at how it affects your focus, your mindset or energy level. I bet it is easy for you to understand how it happens in extremes. But you also need to realize that even minor cases of sleep deprivation will affect your mental and physical performance.
There are tons of elements that can create variances in your performance but when the ego gets involved, you don’t even allow for the possibility of that happening.
So this affirmation addresses that to some degree, and it also addresses the constant beating up on oneself that many people do. “Oh, there’s something wrong with my swing or putting; I don’t trust my ability to read the greens; the ball shouldn’t have landed there, it was a mistake– it was bad”. When you see any or all of those things from a negative perspective, you immediately set yourself up for decreased performance.
I came up with the suggestion of “I am comfortable with my swing, putting and ball position…” because most people are uncomfortable with their swing, putting and ball position. They become agitated about them and tend to have negative perceptions about them. They don’t realize how that attitude and mindset only inhibits their performance, no matter how hard they try to perform well.
I also have in there “…and each day I’m perfecting…” to allow for the fact that people, places and things are not perfect. No day will be perfect as far as everything going exactly as you would like it to go in life or in your sport. Each day you are perfecting and realizing that you are evolving and working at certain things. You get better at some, and some you don’t even know are a problem at all. You go through different levels of this happening at all times. It is a natural progression through life. There is no perfect, and you need to become comfortable with that.
Now as you start to accept this and perfect these mental skills that allow you to view things in a more open way, you will actually begin to see that things are perfect just the way they are. What do I mean by that, when earlier I said there is no perfect? Eventually down the road, with mental training sessions that you sign up for with me or however you ultimately receive focused mental training, you will be able to see that things are perfect just the way they are. But that is a lesson for another day. For now, you want to realize that you are perfecting your skills – both mechanical and mental. The ego looks for perfection and gets excited when things align with what it wants. Or it is disappointed when things don’t align with what it wants or believes should be. That is detrimental to staying present and accepting, and it inhibits your performance.
To look at your golf game and life as perfect just the way they are, for where you are right now in your skills and abilities, will bring a level of acceptance that is different from the ego view of perfection. I hope that doesn’t confuse you; my talking about this difference in perfection. It is just part of the process that I take people through, and something that will help you become more comfortable with your swing, putting and ball positions, and achieve greater performance.
Then, consider how: “…each day I’m perfecting – learning what works for me…”, rather than spinning your wheels in the mud. You don’t want to be upset because your putting is off, you have a problem with your swing or you don’t like where your ball lands. You want to look at the information that is there to help you perfect and learn. If you have problems with short putts, you will find information there that will help you to perfect your putting.
How can this help your mental skills for golf? Gather data to see what you need to tweak and work on, get to work on it and take some action. That will be work for you over time; for you to become aware of it without being angry or agitated about it. Try to think of yourself as being on a journey traveling through an experience, with ups and downs and fluctuations in your abilities and capabilities. Realize that being easier on yourself does not mean being complacent, or that you accept a so-called ‘poor shot’ as what you want to happen. It is a matter of accepting each shot exactly as it is, being comfortable with your swing, putting and ball position, and knowing you have a lot to learn from that. You will then be able to move forward with that information, apply it, and continue to evolve in your putting or any other area in your life.
Hopefully you get what I’m talking about and where I am coming from with this teaching. Try applying this in your everyday life and begin to open up your mind, so that you view things from a more positive place rather than a limiting, unhealthy one. Take some time today to really look at how I’ve explained it to you. Become aware of the discomfort you’ve been experiencing with your swing, putting and ball position. Take a look at how you’ve been beating yourself up rather than accepting, and believe that you are learning and willing to take on challenges. Really try to learn what works well for you rather than putting yourself down and thinking that there’s a problem. You will realize improvements in your comfort level and performance as a result. If you’d like more help with this, please contact me by phone, email or through my website. I am here to help you in any way I can. Until then, say to yourself until you believe: “I am comfortable with my swing, putting and ball position, and each day I am perfecting – learning what works for me.” InJoy your day!
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