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A Quick Fix to Manage Emotions on the Course

Do you manage your emotions when you play competitive golf, or do they manage you? If you're unsure, reflect on your last round that mattered. Did you hit any shots while feeling angry, frustrated, fearful, impatient, or even overly excited about a previous great shot? If so, your emotions likely managed you, possibly costing you a shot here and there.

Competition can put increased pressure on us to perform and, regardless of your ability, a competition is still a competition! Pressure is usually increased when you have heightened expectations of yourself, your game and your performance, and that can often trigger a fear of failure or underperformance. I've spoken about perfectionism and expectations in a previous article where we summarised that it can hurt our performances enormously...beating ourselves up for imperfect shots that, in reality, probably match our ability level on the whole.

With all of these aspects I speak from experience and I know, from working with countless amateurs, that this concept is all too common! If you would like to manage your emotions better on the course then read on for a quick fix to try out in your post-shot routine. This technique helps by shifting your focus away from the outcome of a shot, and more towards mastering your emotions.

The "5-Second Rule"

Now I'm not referring to dropping a piece of food on the floor, picking it up and eating it (something that has become more common in our household with a toddler on the loose). I'm referring to a concept used and adapted by many pros, and something we (as amateurs) should be taking note of. So here it is:

Give yourself no more than 5 seconds to react to any less-than-ideal shot or putt. After those 5 seconds, shift your focus to something you can control like; your decision making for your next shot, putting your club back in the bag, eating something or taking a sip of drink, commenting on the weather (a British favourite). Focus all of your attention on that specific activity, instead of dwelling on the shot that has now gone.

This approach has paid off immensely with countless clients I've worked with but also in my own game. I believe you can show that moment of emotion when you need to (maybe a choice word here and there), but get it out and then get on with it... and as a side note make sure the 'choice words' you use don't diminish you as a person or golfer.

There's lots of debate about whether or not it's better to hold our emotions in and perhaps fake calmness in those situations until it becomes natural to us. I like the idea of both sides of the debate and I would always encourage developing a mindset that allows you to see undesirable shots as an opportunity for a challenge with the next shot. That shift in mindset is something that requires a bit more work but it is definitely something that pays dividends. For the purpose of this article, and in providing you with a quick fix strategy, the "5 Second Rule" could allow you to release your emotions within a brief window, then regain control quickly.

If you're looking for more frequent mental game tips head over to our social pages on Instagram or Facebook where there's a whole host of short videos to get stuck into.

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Golf player | Golf Coaching & Lessons | Coaching Fore Success | Sheffield, UK
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