Hold Out Under Pressure: Golf Performance

April 23, 2014

April’s Theme is Peak Sports Performance

Golf is a serious mental game. I work with many of my clients to alleviate the many thoughts they have going through their minds as they ready themselves. I use suggestions during hypnosis to help them clear their minds and ultimately perform better. A suggestion I would like to expand upon here is one I pulled from my products. It is a hypnosis suggestion and also a self suggestion: I hold out under pressure – mentally, emotionally and with each swing and stroke.” I chose this because the main times I see golfers under pressure are during tournaments or events, and they typically come to me for help with improving their performances for such events. Very little pressure exists when practicing or playing for the fun of it, but a lot of pressure exists when playing in competitions.

Did you know that how you think and talk to yourself affects your golf performance? You speak to yourself all throughout the day, and have various thoughts going on about 60,000 times a day. The ones you grab onto as they go by are the ones you believe, based on previous programming or perceptions. A ton of opportunity exists for different ways you can perceive yourself, life and others, from thoughts in your mind or comments made by people in your life. But you only tend to grab onto those that you believe – and again, your belief system comes from previous experiences and perceptions.

Just because you might have negative beliefs right now about your golf game, does not mean you will always have them. I am not trying to encourage you to be delusional here; if you are not making putts, do not tell yourself that you are making them. That would be a superficial way of looking at this. But I am encouraging you to look at what is going well with your strokes, rather than focusing on what is not. By doing that, you will tune in to those positive behaviors and begin to shift your perception of your putting, which will free you up to perform better and better. If you look at what you lack or what problems you have, that just encourages those problems to build up and continue. Decreased moods or negative attitudes and perceptions cause performance to suffer. So it stands to reason that the opposite would also be true: improving attitude and perception will cause performance to improve.

Pressure increases as the game goes on, depending on whether you are in the lead or close to it, and you perceive or believe that each hole is very important to you taking over the lead. So mounting pressure, then, is on each shot, hole, or stroke. I also see this when I work with PGA tour clients who are near the cut line, or the time of year when they try to keep their cards. In the same manner, each hole is seen with greater and greater value. Each shot, hole, tournament and subsequent pressure increases there also.

Learning how to hold out under pressure is crucial to any golfer who is looking to compete or perform in different arenas, avenues or experiences. If you constantly think that you do awful under pressure, or you can’t hold it together, you stress out, freak out, notice that you kick your bag, throw your clubs, get really frustrated and your tension builds, and depending on your perception of the experience you see this as your tendency, then you want to also see that you have the ability to hold out under pressure as well. The possibility does exist and I can almost guarantee that if you reflect back in life and in golf through all of your experiences, you will find evidence of times when you held out under pressure. Times when you held it together and performed very well, when the going got tough at work, home, in relationships, crisis situations, driving on the highway or other scenarios; those times are the evidence I am talking about. Recognizing your ability to hold out under pressure from moments in your past, will help you create that reality for yourself in your golf game now and in the future.

You are the same human being whether you are running errands, at home, or on the golf course, and you want to see clearly that you are capable of holding out under pressure. When you see that you are capable, then you open the door to transfer over that feeling or ability to hold steady under pressure, and you can imagine yourself doing it on the golf course. Using some self hypnosis or visualization, you can imagine yourself holding out under pressure. Imagine that you are out there in the lead or close to it, or maybe not making the cut, or you are on a final hole. Imagine or visualize any of these scenarios and pull in the feeling of being comfortable, confident, calm, relaxed and performing well, even under pressure, and your performance will improve as you do.

As you practice this technique, you will see that it is not the experience that causes the pressure. It’s your thoughts about the experience that cause the pressure and you can control where your thoughts take you, as you actually do what I described above. You can shift your thoughts and belief system and mentally and emotionally ‘hold out’ – staying calm, confident, relaxed and performing well in both your swing and stroke. The first step is to recognize your perception of where you are in terms of your ability to hold out under pressure. Then you must find evidence of times you have done well under pressure in the past, and focus on those. Lastly, you need to realize that it is just your thoughts that create a shift (not whether you are under pressure), but how you perceive the situation and what you can actually do. As you shift your thoughts and deliberately pull in a level of confidence and calmness where you lacked it before, you will find your performance improving.

So start visualizing yourself calm, relaxed, confident, holding out under pressure and performing well, in all those situations when you had perceived pressure, and go to work on that right now. Work on it in life and in golf. You need to deliberately apply it to life scenarios so you can master the skill, and then you’ll be able to pull from that when you are out golfing. You are not trying to create or pretend to be something you are not, and all of a sudden become (or hope you are) this person who is calm under pressure in life. But if you work at this in all areas of your life, it will naturally carry over into golf.

I am here to help as you begin applying this to your life, so please contact me if you need to. I know it will improve your ability to hold out under pressure in golf, and I am sure will help your performance tremendously. Thanks for reading. InJoy your day.

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