Embracing the Fickle Nature of the Game

One day your swing is great. The next day it seems to fall apart. What changes?

There’s no simple answer for why your performance has peaks and valleys. It could be that you just haven’t locked on some new mechanics you’ve added to your swing. It could be that your thoughts aren’t sending clear messages to your body. It could be that you’re just having an off day. But the reality is that you are not a robot, so don’t expect to perform like one.

The worst thing you can do when things take a slight or dramatic turn is to panic, yet that seems to be where many golfers go. They take to the practice range for a 3-hour grind. They try 20 different approaches to “fix” their swing. They stress about whether or not this new trend is going to follow them for an extended period of time. The turn what is probably a temporary setback into a long-term issue.

Take Action!

Instead of defaulting to worst case scenarios, try for once to just relax and accept that some days things just aren’t going to feel right. Relaxing into the fickle nature of the game is your best opportunity to play through the ups and downs. You know that the more anxious you become mentally, the more your body will respond with tension physically, making a simple glitch even worse.

The following tips will help you take a proactive approach to relaxing in times of trouble –

Recall the great moments — Just because your swing is off today does not mean that you’ve somehow “lost it.” Remind yourself continually what it feels like to swing correctly. Work on reengaging that feeling off the course, and on the practice range without a ball. Sometimes you just need to take the ball and the outcome out of the equation in order to redirect your focus and your thoughts. Remember that replaying the bad shots in your mind is just as bad as physically hitting them over and over.

Don’t forget to breathe — The tighter you get, mentally and physically, the harder it will be to swing with fluidity. So calm yourself with some simple breathing in and out. While engaged in some relaxing breathing, use your visualization skills to replay the shots you desire to create.

Avoid taking an all or none approach to your game — Golfers who see their game as only good or bad find it very challenging to take note the good, as often it is defined as a perfect shot. There is no perfect in golf, so viewing your game with this mindset simply sets you up for defeat. Start to take note of the gray area between good and bad, and change your terminology from bad to less than ideal. The point is that no matter where a shot lies, you have to play it. So why not look at a less than ideal shot as an opportunity to see how creatively you can get the ball back in play.

Take a day off — If you are the type of golfer who tends to work harder and harder, especially when things are not going well, perhaps the best course of action is to simply take a day off. And when I say take a day off, I mean completely. During this time you won’t talk about your game, think about your game, watch golf on TV, or read about it. Instead you will completely switch gears and do something fun and relaxing, so that you can return to the game with a fresh perspective tomorrow.

The next time you are faced with a challenge in your game, take a different approach from a place of acceptance. And remember that it is through failure and adversity that we often learn and grow the most.

Guest contributor: Dr. Shannon Reece

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