Play Like You Practice

January 28, 2015

Play Like You Practice

Do you play golf like you practice? Do you perform as well in your game as you do when you practice? Or do you feel like you cannot perform as well in your golf game as when you practice? I have a lot of clients who tell me this all the time. Many of them are really confused about how to handle it. They don’t understand why they can have a good swing, drive or putt when practicing or playing in practice rounds, and then go out during the week and have those same good shots not carry over. Of course, more pressure does exist in a tournament than when they practice, but still there is a reason. It’s a mind game. So what can a golfer do?

In this blog, I will give you some complimentary mental golf training that should help with this dilemma because the issue is completely mental. Your golf clubs didn’t likely change much from practice to play; your swing is there, your mechanics are there, you probably didn’t even change the type of golf balls you use. The golf course changes here and there but golfers are used to that. So the only thing that consistently changes is the six inches between your ears. That is where fears, expectations and doubts creep in that you don’t think about when you practice. So the big question is: How do you handle it?

First, you want to start addressing the fears, doubts and expectations you bring with you into a game. Start taking a look at them and witness or observe your thought patterns that you likely believe, without even questioning or realizing you are doing it. Let’s say that a year has passed since you played the same event, for example. What happens, then, is you have imprints in your mind of what to expect, based on how you performed the last time. It’s not only that you played it before, but maybe what you heard from others or in the media as well. You might have even formed a perception that you are good (or not good) when you play courses like that one and have similar undulating greens. There are so many stories you can create. The problem comes when you believe them.

Every time you believe those stories, you face challenges. Your own belief causes you to react to them and allows them to create energy that affects your performance. What you perceive, you believe, and what you believe, happens. So what I would suggest to you is to become an observer of those kinds of thought patterns, or those kinds of stories. Start to witness your conscious level, analytical mind and see where it takes you. Then, rather than just falling victim to it and getting caught up in the stories, start to question them and realize that they are really unnecessary and probably untrue. As long as you continue to believe the doubts, fears and limiting expectations in those stories, you will continue to react to them. You want to break that cycle, if you want to play like you practice.

It’s time to neutralize those thoughts. You must realize that you experience different thoughts that pertain to actual game performance versus practice, and that is the main variable that you need to tackle and change. Obviously, this is an aspect of mental training that I cover so if you feel you are struggling with taking control of those kinds of thought patterns, I am here to help you with that. I offer Skype, FaceTime, private sessions and other options, and you can get more information on my website.

For now, your first step is to start witnessing your conscious level thinking when you play. Witness the analytical mind that does analyze the hole, tournament, event or golf course, and even attaches stories to them. Realize that if your mind creates fear based stories, you have got to start questioning, challenging, and neutralizing them. Start believing in yourself, your performance, your mechanics and preparation, and be confident in who you are, what you present and are capable of, as you step into any golf tournament and know you can take on any type of challenge. I can help you with all of these areas as well, but really, it all starts with your need to think healthier thoughts on purpose.

If you find that you feel confident in your golf game when practicing, but then when playing in a tournament you lose your touch, you need to address the mental side of your game. In helping you do that, I have written a positive affirmation or self suggestion that will help you overcome those stories as you transition from practice to play.

The self suggestion that pertains to this topic is: “I practice my golf game as if I am playing: I play my golf game as if I am practicing.” When I attended the Masters, I know people in Augusta heard and read these affirmations hundreds of times a day, on the radio and in newspapers. That’s reinforcement! if you have read any of my previous articles or received any prior training from me, then you have learned a lot about reinforcement, how strong a suggestion will get with repetition, and how much more believable it becomes the more you repeat it. You need that constant reinforcement to reprogram the many thoughts and stories that your mind creates and you automatically believe.

I give you self suggestions like these, knowing that you have 60,000 thoughts a day. So what I would like you to do, starting today, is to train your thoughts like you would train a little puppy. Start training your thoughts to be more productive, healthier and un-limiting; more love based instead of fear based. Say to yourself over and over: “I practice my golf game as if I am playing; I play my golf game as if I am practicing.” As you do, you will find your performance improving.

As I watch professional golfers struggle to make shots that they can normally knock out very easily, I really feel for them because I know the struggle comes from their minds. I can see the fear, angst, and discouragement all over their bodies and faces, when they try to force their will on a situation. I address that topic in mental training also; what can happen when you struggle and force your will instead of trusting and believing. You must believe in your skills and capabilities, and tune out those ugly stories that bring fear into your mind. It is possible, and it will improve your performance.

Please let me know if you would like any more help with this, or any other area of struggle that I identified above. If you feel that you hit any kind of roadblock or resistance along the way, I can help you work through that and get past it. I truly wish you well as you implement this teaching, and hope you see tremendous improvement in your golf game. Just remember to practice like you are playing, and play like you practice. Thanks for reading. InJoy your day!

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