Try hard?

Thu, Jan 6th, 2022
Try Hard Try Hard

We all remember when we were little our Parents and School Teachers to ‘try hard’. This is instilled in everyone form an early age. So trying hard, brings success right?

Well unfortunately in elite golf this is not a good recipe for success. Tournament golf is a performance art, whereby you can both under and over cook the ingredients. And critically, ‘trying hard’ comes from a position of lacking belief. Let me explain more….

All golfers have suffered at one time or another from the phenomenon of overtrying. How many times have you started a round full of hope and enthusiasm, only to play the first 9 holes terribly? What happens then? You stop trying because you feel it’s ‘all gone’, and then you play a great back 9!

Everyone wants to do well the day of the tournament. It’s therefore natural to try that little bit harder in order to do well. You look at the line one more time, make sure the ball lands on the fairway, try to have a good start on the scorecard etc.

Let’s first understand the difference between trying hard and being committed. Being committed is what every athlete to strive to be – focused and determined to achieve his or her vison or goals. But ‘trying hard’ is different – it implies a lack of deep self-confidence, and then as a result of this lack of confidence to then consciously try harder because of this. That’s what we mean by ‘overtrying’. And this is definitely negative in terms of performance. In my experience elite golfers’ who suffer from the ‘overtrying syndrome’ fall into two categories;

1. Take it easy in practice and then try hard the day of the tournament

They take a laissez-faire attitude to their practice, and then suddenly when the day of the tournament comes they decide to ‘turn it on’ by trying hard. Needless to say this approach leads to much frustration and disappointment. The best players in the world approach their training with the same philosophy as Special Forces military personnel – i.e. that their training will make or break them. As Ben Hogan said, 'All my tournament victories came in training'.

2. Try hard in practise and then can’t take their practice game to the tournament

These players are very committed, but are often perfectionistic and as a result of this, constantly undermine their own confidence with strict and demanding self expectations. This lack of confidence then leads them to find it difficult to have the necessary trusting mentality to achieve peak performance. They play defensively and find it difficult to let go of conscious control on tournament day. This is the classic ‘overtryer’. Peak performance golf, i.e. playing your best on tournament day, is about achieving a subtle blend of different factors.

Peak performance formula

In Practice

During Tournaments

Be very focused and committed

Let go and ‘trust’ your training

It’s easy to say ‘letting go’. It’s much harder to do. Why? Because players are often scared that all the effort in training will be for nothing. They are scared of letting down themselves and people around them. They are worried they will ultimately be a failure. ‘Train hard, play easy’ is one of the key philosophies of our Academy. It takes courage, discipline and commitment to do. But the application of this philosophy will lead to peak performance and success in tournaments.  

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