Golf Mind Play: We Attract What We Fear

By: Tracy Tresidder

Is the fear of failure sabotaging your game?

A golfer who fears failure is incapable of maintaining flow, which leads to inconsistent and poor shots. In other words, if you are thinking negatively about the outcome of the hole, you have already sabotaged your shot. Why? Because we attract what we fear. If all of your mental energy is centred on imagining the worst possible scenario, you'll leave yourself with no choice but to surrender to the fated outcome that has been programmed in your mind. Fear is an interesting thing. A lot of people have fear on the golf course and many associate fear with a certain hole, or with familiar, but challenging situations. Because fear is established by a negative reaction to past events, conventional challenges on the golf course are often met with fear before players even attempt to overcome them. You may tell yourself that you don't like a certain hole, and that you always struggle to get through it. By invoking negative suggestions, you have instantly created a chain of events, a chemical reaction in your brain that causes you to do things differently in your body before you have even placed your tee in the ground. So, in order to break this chain reaction, it is paramount to imagine that you really like every hole, and that every hole is a good hole. Try not to dwell on the poor shots you've made in the past and focus on the present moment, as if it is a new and exciting challenge. By altering your attitude when faced with obstacles, you'll be in a better position to conquer them.

Do you dread teeing off in front of a crowd?

An all too familiar situation that generates anxiety in many players, not just beginners, is teeing off in front of a crowd. If you walk up to the first tee fearing that you will make a fool of yourself with a poor shot, you've already set yourself up for failure before you've even made your practice swing. This is a good time to use your visualisation skills; imagine the perfect swing and visualise where that swing will put your ball. Narrow your focus to a specific target and ignore everything that may interfere with your image. Everybody has at one time or another experienced the first tee jitters, and although it may feel like everyone's attention is centred on you, the majority of the crowd will be thinking about their own shots. Just remember, if you do hit a bad shot off the first tee, those who notice will only empathise - it has happened to every golfer, and it's certainly not the end of the world. The key is to remove your focus from your audience and transfer it to your target. Keep in mind that you're playing for yourself, not for the crowd.

Tips

1.Reduce anxiety at the first tee by focusing solely on your shot, and disregarding anyone who may be watching. Remember, they're thinking about their upcoming shot, not yours.

2.Let go of the outcome, and concentrate on your present shot. Play the game one shot at a time, rather than thinking too far ahead.

3.Fear hinders your ability to perform. Tell yourself that you like every hole on the golf course; one is not better or worse than the other. Replace your negative emotions with positive ones and you will become more relaxed and confident on the golf course.

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