Monday, October 3, 2016

Moving Away From Fear

Are you playing golf with fear?  Here are some signs that might signal fear in your game:
  • You plan your shots/day by what you don't want to happen
    • "I don't want to hit it left into the water on this hole."
    • "I don't want to leave this putt short."
    • "I don't want to embarrass myself today."
  • You have a hard time committing to your target.
    • At the top of my swing, I lose my focus and steer it away from trouble.
    • I can't get comfortable over the ball or settle into my set up.
    • Whenever there's trouble left, I seem to tighten up.
  • You're watchful for signs of trouble.
    • You warm up with anxiety and try to hit every shot perfect on the range and make every putt.
    • You get down after a mistake, because you know it might signal problems.
    • When you get in trouble, you press to get free of it.

What is the opposite of fear for you? Security.  You need to feel secure on the course in order to leave your fears behind.  What allows you to feel security?  Acceptance.  You must accept that you won't be perfect, but that doesn't mean you can't still be great.  You must accept that your nerves are normal and signal that your game is important to you and not that you might fail.  You must accept that you will have challenges and know that you have enough character to overcome them.  

If you've decided you need to be brave on the golf course, you may be channeling bravado instead of actually finding security.  Bravado is usually a cover for insecurity or fear.  The players who are secure in their games and in themselves as competitors have a calm confidence that comes from their acceptance.  Every great player in the game of golf commented on how humbling the game was, how often they failed and how they would never truly master it.  Within this acceptance of their own shortcomings came security.  

Mark Twain
Here are some tools to help you if you're feeling fearful instead of secure on the golf course.
  • Preparation.  You can't work too hard.  Tackle your weaknesses that you know you possess so they don't emerge at the most important times.
  • Game plan.  Understand your strengths and play to them.  Figure out a way to negotiate any golf course in your own fashion and stick to it under pressure.
  • Pay Attention.  Listen to your self-talk and channel it the way you need it to go.  Choose your targets by stating to yourself what you want.  Be a positive force in your own mind and heart.
  • Vow to have strong pre-shot and post-shot routines.  See your shot before you hit it and commit to the picture.  Accept whatever you did and let it go after you've hit, whether it was great or poor.
  • Anticipate Challenges.  Know that you will face problems, mistakes, poor shots and bad bounces.  Know before they happen how you will handle them and welcome the chance to show your grit.  
  • Enjoy.  Remember that you're PLAYING a game.  Embrace the nature, smile at the fun, enjoy some conversation with your fellow competitors and keep your head up.  Don't forget that golf is a game.

Playing golf with fear is no fun.  Find the security you need through acceptance of what you take into the game.  Do your best on each shot and find the joy in playing this great game.

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