Just imagine you are standing on the practice range, with a bucket of balls, nonchalantly swatting your driver 300 meters into the distance.
Now you are standing on the last hole of a tournament on the cut line, and you’ve missed the last 3 cuts. You’ve been practicing hard for months, with little results to show. You’ve travelled to a different country to play this tournament, and your sponsors are asking you why you are struggling with your game. OOB is on the left, trees on the right, a pot fairway bunker at 270, and you need to make par to play at the weekend.
Whilst hitting a drive is the same ‘physical’ task in both these situations, it’s clear the ‘psychological’ task is very different.
In Timothy Gallwey’s ground breaking book ‘The Inner Game of Golf’ (released in 1980), he cites a concept he calls ‘Doctrine of the Easy’. It’s wonderfully simple but at the same time wonderfully effective. He cites that it is necessary to not ‘stress’ or ‘overload’ the sub-conscious mind, and instead, give it a task it perceives as relatively simple. So how does this look practically?
Tiger Woods cites, ‘The psychology of golf in essence is relatively simple – it's about rooting into past success to develop future success’. One of the most effective ways to do this is to LINK PRACTICE TO PLAY. So let’s imagine you finish each driving session on the range with picking a 30m fairway between 2 range markers, and you need to hit 3 consecutive drives into this imaginary fairway to finish your session. Well all you do when you are on the last tee of the tournament in the situation described above, you take your mind back to the driving range drill and then just pick two points like you did on the range, and imagine you are doing the drill, when in fact you are on the course in a tournament. This then mimics exactly what Tiger Woods says about ‘rooting into past success to develop future success’. I strongly recommend that you do this for all your shots – so for example:
An important mental skill successful Tour Players have, is the ability to ‘compartmentalize’ their thinking. This maybe focusing on ‘shot by shot’, ‘rooting into past success’ or ‘linking practice to play’ as I have outlined in this article. Give it a go, it will help you perform your best in the cauldron of competition, which is a critical key to build a successful career as a Tournament Player.
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