Everything is a mental game, even when it’s a physical one. Sure, it’s easy enough to grab a club and go hit some balls on the green, but in order to get your head in the game, and get the most out of your time, certain steps can be taken. Not to mention, when you actually have to play in a tournament where there are actual stakes involved.
Before the Game
Work on managing your perception early on so you don’t immediately freak out for having a bad shot on the first hole. Take some time to yourself to focus on what you would like to accomplish. Establishing personal goals can help keeping a healthy perspective on whatever happens. And let’s face it, some things are just going to be out of your control. So preparing for that mindset early on will help you remain cool and collected. The only way to reach your desired results is to stay in the moment, and playing one shot at a time.
During the Game
Now that you’re ready to bring your best, and are mentally prepared, now all you have to do is envision success by a culmination of individual swings and shots during each hole. Since golf isn’t a game you can really ‘make up’ for previous mistakes, the most important thing to remember is to learn to let mistakes go along the way. Don’t try and calculate what you need to do to make up for lost strokes, or pile on unnecessary pressure on yourself as the game goes on. It’s going to be hard to look at the next shot with fresh eyes when you’re fixated on the last one.
Following the Game
No matter what happens, try not to dwell on it too much. Remember the good moments you had during the game, and if you do want to think about your performance, try to give and take constructive criticism from an optimistic viewpoint. It will be harder to improve next time unless you can approach it from a stress-free place. Compile a written review of sorts on what went well, and what you could have done better. This allows you to see your game in more of a sequence of events, and not just “wins” and “failures.” Looking at it as a whole can help you evaluate certain patterns in a more effective manner.