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The Mental Game in Two Words


iacas
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11 hours ago, Single Length Irons Guy said:

Here's a good video on the mental game while practicing that seems to apply to golf:

https://www.facebook.com/TEDEducation/videos/1489398127740055/

Thanks for posting. Very similar to the thread below with the added neuroscience.

 

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  • 1 month later...

Enjoy pressure...I like that.

Pressure is a good topic.  For myself the answer has never been forced positive thinking.  Just never worked for me.  For me it's about concentration.

I have been at my best under pressure in sport when I let go of trying too hard and allow myself to become fully immersed in the moment.  

The more your focus point leaks out of the present moment and onto say outcome the more pressure you will be aware of.  Hands might shake pulse races the adrenaline is there...You have to have a way to return to the present and routine is one thing that really helps.  Tigers putting routine when he was on top was a great example of this.  Another aspect of it is simply getting used to the situations that make you feel pressure.  The more you experience it the less it affects you.

For me it's all about concentration.  Concentration takes practice and can be developed.  It's important that you have the confidence in order to be able to let go of the past and future and act in the now.  With a strong routine in golf you have an advantage.

In the past I have played sports under pressure many times and when it got to me I played poorly but when it didn't I played to my potential or a higher level than I could normally with no pressure.

Trying too hard will ruin you every time.  

This is a huge part of why I no longer film myself hitting balls on course.  I start nitpicking and it builds more self consciousness.  

We want to be UNself conscious to do our best in sport.  Some like visualization also like this...

 

 

 

Edited by Jack Watson
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  • 2 weeks later...

I love this thread and am really glad I ran across it. I kind of laughed at it, at first, but then thought about all of the times playing with my friends as a kid, when we'd imagine winning "the big game" with a last second buzzer-beater or throwing the game winning touchdown. Why hadn't I ever thought of golf that way? Thanks to this thread, I'm now starting to (or trying, at least).

I just finished up an extended golf weekend where I started the final day with a crappy round but managed to only lose 50 cents on quarter skins. Ate lunch and on the first tee of our second round my buddy suggested $1 skins (big money to me, I'm cheap :-P)...and for some reason I thought of this post and replied with a simple, "Bring it."

Nine holes later I was up 8-1. :-D On the 16th hole, we had to go back a hole to pick up his sand wedge and he asked if I wanted to drive out to 100yds and put a $5 side bet on who could hole-out first. I've recently learned that my 52o wedge is pretty darn accurate and produces 88-92 yards reliably, so when we drove out to the marker, I asked, "you wanna go from about 90?" and he said, "Sure."  :ninja:

I stuck it within 6 feet and made the putt. He made a four. :content:

On the 18th tee, I'm up 14-3 when he smirks and suggests our normal, "Double or nothing?" -- to which I just nodded and smiled. Why not, right? Tee'd the ball up and hit my longest drive of the day, 263 yards, right down the middle of the fairway...and then won the hole with an easy par. 

As we're walking off the 18th, noticing the course was still empty, he suggests we play 18 again for double or nothing (again). I knew I was being greedy, but agreed. We played the hole 3 more times, tying twice, until I shanked a 6-iron and he beat me on the hole by one stroke.

Sad. :~( Would've been a nice payday. But with $44 bucks on the line he had a lot to lose and finally zeroed in as I was running out of steam.

Either way, I walked away $5 richer (from our side bet) and the knowledge that I can perform when the pressure is on and, for the most part, keep myself in that "confident not cocky" mindset even when I'm ahead. Hopefully, I'll also take it as a lesson to stay humble when necessary and walk away with the money while I can. ;-)

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On 9/25/2011 at 2:37 PM, mvmac said:

What do you think inhibates golfers from enjoying the pressure?  I think it takes practice like anything else but more often than not that "pressure" can take over

Mike for me my pressure is my unparalleled desire to play this game well. I know I have the ability to do so. My 'enjoy pressure' is coupled with the fear of awful disappointment when I shank a 125 yd wedge shot after a beautiful drive. I practice incessantly. I went out the other night at 6:30pm to play 9. I had the course to myself. Holes 3 and 5 are par 3's. Hole 3 is a 6i, Hole 5 a 7 or 8. On hole 3 I stood there, relaxed and focused. Checked my grip, ball position, practiced the back swing. All felt great. Shank. I then proceeded to hit 4 more tee shots....shank, shank, push, shank. Terribly frustrating and disheartening. That morning I was striping that 6i to various targets while my instructor watched telling me my swing was looking real nice. I tell ya, it just sucks the life outta me. 

I talked myself down and took a moment to really regroup and focus. Hole 5 came. And the exact same thing happened but with my 7i. I dunno. So what inhibits me to enjoy the pressure? I'm thinking I need to stay away from the practice area for awhile and only play so that the 'course' becomes as familiar as the practice area has become for me.

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The thing I always think about when trying to improve confidence with X or Y is remembering when I stopped worrying about water on holes. The more I'm confident in the shot I'm trying to hit and trying to think about what I want to do rather than what I don't want, the better the result.

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  • 1 year later...

Personally love pressure. When I played high school golf I was our #1 guy for junior and senior year. The biggest pressure was probably on the 1st tee at away matches. All 11 other players there plus coaches and as the away 1, you had the honor at the 1st tee. Countless times I ripped one down the pipe and had that “oh yea” flush feeling as I hit. Such a rush! I remember playing a match at practice. 4 man teams best ball. 2 groups. We tied. So coach sent me and one other kid out to the 150’s on 9. Winner from there wins for their team. Kid drops, hits one to 15 feet. I drop and stick an 8 to 5 feet. He misses and I make! I really miss that competition. So excited for the club championship here on the 29th and 30th. Aside from some scrambles i haven’t played a real competition since high school. It’s my 1st year as a member. The event is 2 days of 18 holes a day. I shot 74/77 in 2 days this last week which are my 2 lowest scores to date on the course so I’m hoping I can go out an hang up 2 days of 74 or so. Honestly don’t even know what kind of score I need to win but I know I can reasonably shoot 75-78 on any day. As long as I hang a good score I’ll be happy and I’m gonna enjoy just getting the adrenaline flow and rush back!

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I'm still not sure how much impact the mental game has, but I believe there is some impact. So I guess those would be my two words.

Personally, staying in the present seems to help me. This would include putting the right amount of thought into the last shot - regardless of the result - and then moving my thoughts on to the next.

Am I going to look away in disgust from a crappy putt because I know it started off line, or am I going to watch it so see if there's a slight break at the end? If I top an iron shot, should I immediately forget it and assume it was an anomaly, or try and figure out why it happened and apply it to the next shot? And as far as a good result, I want to enjoy it for a few seconds before switching my thoughts to my next shot.

The mental game (to me) also means that I put the right amount of thought into my next shot. 

I am convinced that my short game is worse on some days simply due to a lack of concentration. I can't put backspin on a pitch, or hit a flop shot that goes almost straight up and dies when it hits, or control distance out of the sand. Those are all examples of physical/skill limitation. But a chip is a pretty easy shot to control... until I take it for granted and fail to concentrate. On days when I make a point of really focusing on the short game, it seems to be better.

My last example of the mental game is one I'm beginning to improve upon. A big push from my instructor is "no practice swings after address"... "swing back, swing through". This advice probably doesn't apply to many others, but I would be thinking about mechanics at address, on my take-away, my shoulder turn, hip turn, how straight my lead arm is .... you get the idea. Not only very choppy, but at times I'd literally think of and apply a change as I started the downswing.

I'm trying to accept my present skill level and play the best golf I can within that level.

That said, my present skill level isn't very good and is - by a wide margin over the mental game - the reason my scores remain high.

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1 hour ago, Lihu said:

Oh, you mean play GOOD too? 😂

Point is you can't just make yourself "care less" for something you want to succeed at. 

Working towards "enjoying the pressure" puts you in a mindset to overcome or deal with golf's many challenges. 

Never been a fan of mental "tricks" that downplay dealing with the variety of emotions that occur during a round of golf. I think it's better to acknowledge what's really going on. Something like, "yeah I'm a little nervous right now because I have a good round going, I want to hit this one solid and finish strong", than to say, "it's no big deal" because that's just lying to yourself.

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5 minutes ago, mvmac said:

Point is you can't just make yourself "care less" for something you want to succeed at. 

Would you not agree that some of us care far more than we should? And if so, wouldn't making a bit of an adjustment not only be possible but necessary?

I don't mean not caring at all, just caring at a more reasonable level.

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54 minutes ago, mvmac said:

Point is you can't just make yourself "care less" for something you want to succeed at. 

Working towards "enjoying the pressure" puts you in a mindset to overcome or deal with golf's many challenges. 

Never been a fan of mental "tricks" that downplay dealing with the variety of emotions that occur during a round of golf. I think it's better to acknowledge what's really going on. Something like, "yeah I'm a little nervous right now because I have a good round going, I want to hit this one solid and finish strong", than to say, "it's no big deal" because that's just lying to yourself.

All of that's well said, yes.

Stuff is what it is. I don't feel a lot of pressure when I play golf or get too nervous partly because I like to "show off" a little, and partly because I know that it won't really affect my life one way or the other regardless of the outcome. But those are my truths, they're what's real. I don't say "this won't affect my life" because I'm trying to lie to myself. Because it does affect how I feel for the next ten minutes, or ten hours, or ten days. It just doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things.

And other people care more, or less, than I do, depending on various factors. I care more or less at different times, too. But I don't ever downplay what it is, nor do I ever amp up what something is to be more important.

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2 hours ago, JonMA1 said:

Would you not agree that some of us care far more than we should? And if so, wouldn't making a bit of an adjustment not only be possible but necessary?

I don't mean not caring at all, just caring at a more reasonable level.

I feel we're talking about different things here. I can't say one way or another whether someone cares more than they should. The game means something different to different people. If someone places too much importance on golf or playing well, to me that's a different issue than dealing with first tee jitters or making a 4ft putt to win a match.

What I was getting at with my post was when you're feeling the nerves/pressure, don't lie to yourself that it's a pressure situation. Acknowledge it and try to rise to the occasion. Enjoy the opportunity to overcome the obstacle. 

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11 hours ago, mvmac said:

Never been a fan of mental "tricks" that downplay dealing with the variety of emotions that occur during a round of golf. I think it's better to acknowledge what's really going on. Something like, "yeah I'm a little nervous right now because I have a good round going, I want to hit this one solid and finish strong", than to say, "it's no big deal" because that's just lying to yourself.

Here is a quote from Tiger,

Quote

I always feel pressure. If you don't feel nervous, that means you don't care about how you play. I care about how I perform. I've always said the day I'm not nervous playing is the day I quit.

This is the best golfer of all time acknowledging he feels pressure. He feels nervous. He just knew how to deal with it. The worst thing a person can do is go apathetic about their golf game. Not caring is not the way to deal with pressure.

7 hours ago, mvmac said:

I feel we're talking about different things here. I can't say one way or another whether someone cares more than they should. The game means something different to different people. If someone places too much importance on golf or playing well, to me that's a different issue than dealing with first tee jitters or making a 4ft putt to win a match.

What I was getting at with my post was when you're feeling the nerves/pressure, don't lie to yourself that it's a pressure situation. Acknowledge it and try to rise to the occasion. Enjoy the opportunity to overcome the obstacle. 

100% agree here. There is a difference between being way too competitive, or letting a game get you upset versus feeling pressure to succeed in a competition.

 

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12 hours ago, JonMA1 said:

Would you not agree that some of us care far more than we should? And if so, wouldn't making a bit of an adjustment not only be possible but necessary?

I don't mean not caring at all, just caring at a more reasonable level.

That’s more or less what I meant originally, but in reality if you want to succeed that might not work.

i can only say that for myself, the execution of the swing is far more important to me than the exact outcome. I’m at a stage where I have more control of that than wherever the ball decides to stop. Better players have more control of where the ball goes. I practice on the range to get me in a position to execute shots better on the course. The only thing I might get annoyed at is a mishit shot than where the ball ends up. That’s because that’s what I practice at the range.

I’m doing shooting sports as well, and emphasis is on setup and speed. The only thing I can control is my setup and position. If I’m out of breath because a station was setup far away and I only have a few seconds to get there that’s out of my control. I’ll be out of breath. The only thing I can control is what I practice.

So, that is what I meant by caring less. Most of us care too much about things out of our control.

Edited by Lihu
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19 minutes ago, Lihu said:

So, that is what I meant by caring less. Most of us care too much about things out of our control.

I think it's more expectations. They have a good range session and don't realize that doesn't translate to a consistent score. What ever your swing is, it still produces high number of results. Also, there isn't much out of your control. Maybe you get a bad bounce. For the most part, you have all the variables needed to hit a shot. The issue is, golf is HARD.

Let's say you miss a 150 yard shot 15 yards right of where your intended end point is. That is 5.7 degrees offline. With start line and curvature, that could be a few degrees of face angle control. You have a fraction of a second to get the clubface to line up with swing path to hit an accurate shot. It becomes very hard to do when the swing path is extreme.

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