Worldgolf Golf Tips

Peak Performance Psychology

Bringing Your 'A" Game to Competitions.

by Nick Rosa, Ph.D

This article is in response to the following letter from Kyle:

Dear Dr. Nick:

I am a 10.2 handicapper and shoot fairly well 79-84 on a average day, but when I get in a tournament or play in front of a group of people watching, like at some charity events I can't seem to do as well. I'll shoot high 80's- low 90's. I can't figure out why. I don't feel any different than any other day, but I know something is bothering me. Can you possibly tell me why this happens and is there anything I can practice to help me with this?

Thank You,
Kyle Hrubes

Dear Kyle:

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I believe it safe to assume that your course management skills are the same on an average day as they are on tournament days or when a crowd is watching (tournament + conditions). Moreover, your technical skills are at the same stage of development, regardless. So, the questions are why the difference in performance under tournament + conditions and what to do about it?

You are a skilled golfer who, on an average day, executes your technical skills so efficiently and effectively as to shoot between 79 and 84. This indicates that your internal resources (perceptions, thoughts, nerve endings, body chemistry, kinetics,...) are efficiently working toward the successful execution of your skills; driving, approach shots, putting, and so forth.

Apparently, such is not the case when you are playing under tournament + conditions. Under these conditions your internal resources are not working as efficiently.

Fortunately, certain mind-body exercises can enable you to transfer the efficient internal resources you have on a average day to tournament + conditions. Even better is to transfer your most efficient internal (peak performance) resources to you tournament + play; the approach we will take.

The following Peak Performance Moment exercises will enable you to experience your peak performance resources under tournament + conditions. This will enable you to maximize the level of your tournament + play.

Read through steps 1 through 6 to get an overview of the exercises before doing them:

  • 1) With your eyes opened or closed, imagine or review a time and place wherein you were playing extraordinarily great golf; when you had a “positive feel”, you were “in a zone” or “in a rhythm”. Then isolate a moment in that experience where you can observe yourself playing well; this is a Peak Performance Moment.

  • 2) With your eyes opened or closed, continue observing yourself in your Peak Performance Moment; paying attention to visual detail; weather conditions, other people, your swing mechanics, etc. Also, recall any sounds; your club or putter making contact with the ball, positive comments from other golfers, even leaves rustling or birds singing.

  • 3) With your eyes closed, mentally transport yourself back to that moment so that you can feel the ground under your feet, your club or putter in your hand, so that you can see and hear the details surrounding you. As you do this, you will begin to feel your peak performance resources returning. As you feel them returning, make a thumbs-up gesture with your writing hand and hold this gesture for 5 to 10 seconds. After 5 - 10 seconds, open your eyes for a fraction of a second and close them again.

  • 4) Repeat step 3, five more times. The thumbs-up gesture should now trigger your Peak Performance State. You should experience an internal positive shift of how you feel when you use the thumbs-up gesture. If not, repeat step 3, five more times.

  • 5) The next step is to make a thumbs-up gesture and, on a monitor, imagine seeing yourself in the future playing extremely well under tournament + conditions. Continuing holding your gesture, mentally transport yourself into the future; feeling, for example, your setup, swing or stroke mechanics and paying attention to the sights and sounds of tournament conditions; for example, seeing and hearing people watching, commenting, applauding, etc. Do this for 10 - 15 seconds, then open your eyes for a fraction of a second and close them again.

  • 6) Repeat step 5, five more times. Steps 5 & 6 enable your Peak Performance State to be automatically triggered by the sights and sounds of tournament + conditions; thus, enabling you to maximize your performance.
Do these exercises and you’ll play consistently well under tournament + conditions. Guaranteed!

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