I receive many emails and phone calls from golfers who are unhappy with some aspect (or many aspects!) of their performance. Ive compiled a list of the top 10 most common performance issues I hear from golfers from all over the world. This list is in no particular order of frequency or importance as everyones issues are important to them and one is no more crucial than another. If it creates an obstacle for you; its important! Ive broken the 10 performance issues into two sections. Part 1 will focus on 5 issues with the remaining 5 appearing in part 2 next week. Here they are:
No. 1 -- I Wish I could be more confident
The search for confidence may be one of the most common themes I hear from golfers at all levels. If your confidence is based solely on your results you have set yourself up to walk a tightrope. This means you will feel confident when things go well and lack confidence when things dont go well. Doesnt sound like much fun does it?
Suggestion: When you focus on things you cannot control like, score, ranking, what others are saying about you, conditions, etc. you can automatically trigger feelings of doubt, fear and inconsistent play. Confidence arises when we focus on things we do have control over such as breathing, your routines, your rhythm and your body language. Check it out for yourself. Identify what you focus on while on the course and see if its something you have control over or not.
No. 2 -- I want to take my range game to the course
Heres a newsflash. The range IS different than the course! Its supposed to be. The range is a place to either work on something in your golf swing or to regain rhythm, feel and tempo of your golf swing. What you want to take to the course is the rhythm, tempo and feel you produced on the range. You can also use the range as a practice golf course by imagining you are playing out specific holes and choosing your shots accordingly. Everything you do at the range can help build confidence but make no mistake about it; the range is NOT the golf course.
Suggestion: Acknowledge that the course is not the range. Focus on things such as repeating the rhythm, tempo and feel when you approach the first tee.
No. 3 -- Im very hard on myself
Many golfers experience this challenge on the golf course. For those who are hard on themselves, Ive found it is the result of an underlying unreasonable set of beliefs or expectations. Being hard on yourself usually translates into poor self-talk and the production of negative emotions. Both of these will create poor play if allowed to continue. When I ask players why they play the game they often give me the by the book response, to have fun and play my best. Then I ask, Well, why arent you doing that then? The truth is; they are not having that experience because they are being driven by another expectation.
Suggestion: If you are very hard on yourself; take an honest look at your expectations. You may discover that some of them are very unreasonable (to be perfect, never make an error, etc.) This holds true whether you are a low or high handicapper.
No. 4 -- I cant seem to get to the next level
Everybody hits a plateau at some point in their game. This is quite normal. You may hit several plateaus throughout your playing days. Thats why I advise my clients to view golf as a journey rather than a destination. Instead of trying to get to some specific place, remember that you are moving on a continuum that does not have any real destination. Thats the beauty of the game and if you maintain that mindset you can keep an open mind and see the bigger picture more easily.
Suggestion: When you hit a plateau; sit down and identify what it is you need to break through. Is it something mental or physical? Do you need to make a fine adjustment in your golf swing that can gain you the extra advantage you need? Do you need to use your mind and emotions in a more effective way to help you break the current comfort zone so you can allow your full talents to emerge?
No. 5 -- I know a mental game is important and mine could be better!
This is my personal favorite. If I had a nickel for every time I heard this one; Id have a lot of nickels! 95% of the people I polled, at all levels, agree that their mental game is important and could be better! So, now the question is; what do you do about it? I receive many emails from players who get into detailed descriptions of their problems that can be 4 or 5 paragraphs long. At the end they write, can you give some advice? or help! A list of surface tips usually will not fill the bill (just relax more; you need to be more confident in that situation). If you read my last article The Most Important Performance Principle, I used the metaphor of a home with foundation problems. Rather than fix the foundation, some people apply more paint on the house to make it look good while the foundation is still causing it to weaken.
When it comes to achieving the changes you seek there is only 1 important question. Is what youre doing getting you the results you believe you should have? If it is, keep on doing it. If its not, consider a change in approach. I can tell you this; the player you want to be resides within you already. There is no substitute for doing the inner work to release him or her.
Suggestion: Take an honest look at yourself and your game. Identify what youre actually doing to be successful and also identify whether its working for you or not. There is no magic pill for this. Its either a benefit or its not. If youre experiencing the same or similar complaints then something is not working. Try another approach!
To Your Best Golf!