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Golf Tip

Presented by Joakim Westman, Camp Director

Competitive Golf - How to Manage Your Emotions in Tournament Play

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Most often tournament play brings up negative emotions and thoughts, which I would label as “fearful” emotions and thoughts. For example, one of my clients had fears about playing short wedge shots, 50 yards and in. His negative mental and emotional state about these shots would always become a self-fulfilling prophecy, he would either hit them fat or top them. It wasn’t until in the session I gave him that he started to become aware that he was functioning from a fearful state when he was playing the short wedge shots. Key here, is his own awareness over his own emotions and thoughts, without awareness he would not have been able to realize how he was creating messing up his short wedge shots. Once he began to be aware of how much fear had dominated him when playing his wedge, he could start to experience the possibility of playing wedge shots from a state of self-trust and believing in his own ability. In actuality it was as if it was a new person that was playing the wedge. The wedge had become his friend instead of a fearful enemy, something he had dreaded he had to do in tournament play.

Fearful thoughts and emotions can show up in many different ways before and or during tournaments, the big questions is, how are you best going to deal with it? The #1 key is to first become self-honest and identify what it is that you feel anxiety/fear about. Without this step you can’t become aware of your negative state and therefore you can’t change your state or the outcome. Once you have identified what it is you have anxiety about, you have an opportunity to become aware of it how it feels in your body. Awareness over the fear allows you to be less identified with it, and therefore it can start to release. After experiencing the anxiety having lessened or diminished, you can start to have attention on how do I want to feel regarding the issue that I had a challenge with? For example, if you have a pattern of feeling fearful and stressed teeing off on the first tee, you can ask yourself, what do I want my experience be like when I tee off on the first hole? You may feel aligned with experiencing calmness in your stomach, or you may want to experience expressing yourself with confidence as you play your first tee shot.

Becoming a great tournament player takes courage and self-honesty and the more you can look your own fears in the face and not let them stop you, the more you will be able to design how you want your own experience to be like. Self-mastery comes from getting to know yourself, both the fearful Self and the Part of you that is natural and that intuitively knows how to play golf shots in your own most efficient way.

Joakim Westman Creator of Peak Performance Strategy and Director/Coach Nike Jr Camps @ Bellevue GC and the Golf Club at Echo Falls in Seattle, WA. Learn tips like this and more this summer at golf camp!

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