Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Coach, I Ran Out of Holes!

If I were to think of an attitude a coach would love to see on the golf course, it would be this - Coach, I ran out of holes!  Or how about - Hey Coach, watch this!  Those two sentences sum up what we want to see in our athletes.  The first indicates the golfer who has patience and the belief that she can do good things.  It also signifies a love for the game and the ability to continue to look forward.  The second attitude shows a player who is eager to show her skills; who isn't afraid to make a mistake and invites pressure.  If you are a young player, both would be great attitudes to adopt.

What is the opposite of the feeling that you ran out of holes?  It is the focus on what isn't happening for you.  It is a habit of being in the past or caught up in mistakes you've made.  If you are adding your score before you finish, you won't have the feeling of running out of holes.  If you quit believing in what is possible, you won't have the feeling of running out of holes.  If you aren't completely absorbed in the shot you are about to hit, you won't have the feeling of running out of holes. 

Wait, what?  We're on 18?  NOOOO!

The goal is simple, the execution of the goal is hard.  Give all you have to each shot.  Put your head, heart and soul into this one shot.  Let go of past mistakes.  Let go of fear.  Let go of distractions.  Let go of doubts.  Embrace focus.  Visualize the shot.  Feel yourself hitting it.  Believe it before you see it.  Have faith!

These are the things you need to hold on to if you want to walk off of #18 and say, Hey Coach, I ran out of holes out there!

How about the other attitude you can embrace, the "Hey, watch this!" attitude.  What does it mean?  If you embrace this attitude, you are loving the challenge of the shot.  You see each shot as an opportunity to show your skills.  You feel as though you have what it takes to rise to the occasion.  You understand that pressure is what makes the game fun and competition is why you play.  Your self belief leads to courage.

If you don't have the "Hey, watch this!" attitude, here is what you might be feeling on the golf course.  You might wonder if you can pull this shot off.  You might think about the fact that you haven't practiced this shot enough.  You might think of the things you don't want to happen with the shot.  You might think of what you should do with the shot instead of what you will do.  You might wonder how someone else would hit the shot.  You might think that failure to hit the shot well will lead to bad things, such as a high score, judgment by others, an indication of your weakness or a clear picture of you failings.  You might stand over the shot hoping it doesn't go into the water, the bunker or the woods. You feel fear of the unknown instead of love for the opportunity. 

The enemy of your great attitude is often your own expectations.   SHOULD is a dirty word in the golfer's vocabulary, yet our self-talk is littered with the word.  Your expectations can be built from anything; a great week of preparation, a successful tournament played last week, a great shot that settles close to the hole, a great drive that leaves a shot at your go-to wedge distance or a pairing in the final group of the day.  Yes, any good event can become a negative if you allow it to create expectations instead of merely thinking of it as a successful achievement.  Expectations are created when you carry the past with you and allow it to shape your future.


Expectations are also created when you lose your authentic self.  The idea that you can be perfect mentally and physically isn't realistic.  Learn to be yourself on the course, accept what you do and move on quickly.  Those are the keys to putting expectations behind you. The idea that you are entitled to a good score based on good ball striking or good preparation is one that will lead you to pouting, frowning and dwelling on what isn't happening.  The idea that your past achievements will reveal your future will cause you problems, too. It's up to you to create your game each and every time you step on the course.  Your score is as reliant on your attitude as it is your ball striking or putting.  Don't allow expectations to effect your attitude.

Your attitude is the one thing truly within your control on the golf course.  There are a million excuses for letting it slip.  You can use the weather, past results, a bad break or funny bounce, missed putts, lack of control over your ball flight, slow play, unfair officials, bad advice from your coach or caddy, lack of sleep, and on and on and on.  Or, you can choose to be enthusiastic, patient, positive, resilient, confident and accepting.  All of these are building blocks and together will form your character.  Your character will always be there for you, even on days when your ball striking has deserted you.  The next time you play an important round of golf, decide that your character will shine.  Put your head, heart and soul into each shot and be your authentic self!

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