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hsgolfer

Tips for playing under pressure.

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I tend to struggle playing in tournaments, any tips?
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Aside from the obvious things like taking deep breaths every once in a while and trying to settle into a good rhythm, I think by far the most beneficial thing is just experience. It's not abnormal to struggle with pressure when first starting to play tournaments. Everyone has their own way of handling pressure and you will find your ways with time. Don't let some bad rounds discourage you from playing in competitive events. I think you'll find that your scores will start to come back to normal after you get a few events under your belt... Some people have the natural ability to thrive under pressure with minimal experience, but most don't. With that said, for me it is essential to spend a few minutes on the range before teeing off to help ease the nerves. Also, I like to pack snacks for the round along with a couple bottles of water. For some reason a snack halfway through the round has a calming effect on me. And like the link above says, enjoy the pressure. Embrace it, for it is what keeps me coming back for more of these competitive events. Also realize that your livelihood does not ride on the results.
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Don't care about the outcome.
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Don't care about the outcome.

Exactly the opposite of this. You need to practice and play consistently in a environment where you DO care about the outcome. Until you become used to that feeling and pressure, you'll continue to struggle in tournaments where you do care.

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Well, there are different ways to deal with this kind of pressure. I personally find that not focusing on the outcome and getting out of your own way so that you execute with the minimum amount of tension, you'll do better. Perhaps if your livlihood depends on it, you would feel different. I'm not wired that way, personally. Yes, putting yourself in the situations where you have to execute and having the practice to back it up is a very good plan. No doubt about it. Many successful people come from that.
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Exactly the opposite of this.

You need to practice and play consistently in a environment where you DO care about the outcome. Until you become used to that feeling and pressure, you'll continue to struggle in tournaments where you do care.


Agreed, you need to push yourself to be able to handle the pressure later, personally I feel no different playing a casual round versus tournament because I have always given 100% effort mentally and physically towards every shot therefore tournament situations feel no different. I know were all supposed to be having fun and all but the competitive aspect of the game is the most fun by far for me. Start by having something riding on every game you play and it can be as little as a few quarters just add that bit of pressure every time.

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One thing that can tighten up your tournament game is by possibly getting more serious with your practice rounds. I don't know what you do in non tournament rounds but maybe your expectations of yourself are higher because you might be getting overly critical of yourself during the tournament adding pressure to yourself that you might not deserve. I have about 20 years of playing billiards tournaments in NY/NJ area. Some were locally sanctioned and some were side action. When i was getting myself ready to start competing rather than just playing, my approach in practice matches would be very different. On your practice matches you should make mental markers of your different shots and determine your strong points. If you start executing in a serious manner in practice you can develop a mentality that you can go to when in the tournament. In billiards, it's about learning how to win, not just about learning how to play. Of course there is a lot of offense and defense in pool that you wont find in golf, but the mental aspect of firing back whenever someone tries to get aggressive in match is still the same. Competition is competition regardless of what sport. The details within each game are what makes them all different from one another.

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Think "process" not "results:.  It is important to have a preshot routine and to not get away from it on the course.  When you're thinking about the process you're not worrying about results.  For me I'd add that make sure "check grip pressure" is part of the preshot routine.

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