Practicing what you preach: Part four!

by | Practice

Today’s blog will be on the second and final round of the tournament at Cowichan Golf Course. A tricky but fun golf course!

Day two of the tournament and I am a good 6 shots off the lead. However, I was not concerning myself with this as I knew I had no control over what the other players were going to shoot. I had my own game plan that I wanted to execute to the best of my ability. My focus points for my swings would be on external feels, the clubhead at the end of my swing, putter head release at the end of the putts.

I strongly believe that an external focus will result in a better outcome than focusing internally. (See Gabriel Wulf’s work for further evidence!) Everything was an external feel that was outside of my body. I find this allows for my body to react in a more automatic response, and then I don’t over-think.

I got off to a steady start and continued to play pretty consistent golf on the front 9. I was just focused on my own game plan and tried to not pay too much attention to what the previous day’s leader was doing. I was giving myself lots of opportunities for birdie and felt pretty steady with my game. I had thoroughly gone through my game plan and knew my targets and what clubs I wanted to have into greens. We get onto the back nine and I realize that I am getting very close to catching the previous day’s leader!


Tester of the mental training plan #3: Tee shot on hole #16 now tied for the lead

As I approached the 16th tee box I became very aware that I had caught the previous day’s leader. The 16th hole in the past has been one that has been a bit of a round-ruiner. It is quite narrow with out of bounds left and lots of trees and a big slope down on the right. My mind also started to creep ahead to visions of seeing myself with the trophy and winning. Thoughts that I knew (and all golfers know!) are not conducive to actually winning, or hitting a good shot for that matter! Again in the week prior I had prepared for these situations. I knew how I wanted to respond if these thoughts entered my head. I had previously envisioned myself accepting the thoughts, acknowledging them and then shifting to thoughts of things I can control. I used to get very panicked when I had these thoughts because ‘getting ahead of yourself’ usually results in a poorer shot due to lack of focus. I had practiced the week before that if these thoughts happened I would go back to thinking about an external feel. My clubhead, my golf swing after impact.  My particular swing feels for that day were fire hips, club head to follow through. I had envisioned multiple times how I wanted to perform if I was in contention and coming down the stretch. I felt a sense of composure on the tee box and hit a great drive down the middle. As I watched the leader falter on this hole I made a very steady and composed par! This was a huge breakthrough for me, in the past when I have gotten nervous my body tends to shut down and I don’t move my hips through resulting in a costly left shot. To hit three steady shots on this narrow par 5 gave me a huge sense of relief and accomplishment!

Tester of the mental training plan #4. Tee shot on the 17th now with the lead

I now approached the 17th hole with a 3 shot lead on the previous days leader. Getting ready to step up onto the tee, again my thoughts started to creep ahead to winning and after the round. Again, this is something I had practiced in my mental training plan. I had visualized how I wanted to respond coming down the stretch. Seeing myself acting confidently, shoulders back, slow breathing. I was also prepared to accept that sometimes these thoughts are normal and to just notice them, accept then, and then commit to thinking about what I can control right now to produce the best shot possible. I went through my pre-shot routine feeling what I wanted to feel and it brought a sense of comfort. I stuck to the plan and executed one of my best drivers ever on this hole; right smack down the middle! This hole in the past has been a nemesis hole for me! A lot of bad memories crept into my head right before I stepped up onto the tee box. But again through preparing for this, and directing my thoughts to my swing feels I made a very confident golf swing. This was another huge breakthrough for me to stay focused on my swing feels and target and execute a great drive. This new way of thinking, from accepting some of these negative thoughts that creep in and switching them to process oriented thoughts, made a huge difference. In the past, I would panic when I had these thoughts and try to suppress them as fast as possible. I much prefer this other approach! It is based on the MAC (Mindfulness, Acceptance, Commitment) approach (check out Gardner and Moore’s work for more information!).

Check back next week for the final post on the five part mini series to see what happened on the last hole and the results of the tournament!

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