By Dr. Rick Sessinghaus PGA
Golf can be a challenging game with many ups and downs. Coaching so many junior golfers I see that dealing with poor shots is a major issue and gets in the way of lower scores. The other area that is affected is enjoyment of the game. I hate seeing a bad attitude get in the way of a junior enjoying golf.
Junior golfers are too hard on themselves. Unfortunately, I know this far to well. I lived and died with every shot. If I hit a good shot I felt fine, however if I hit a poor shot I felt horrible. It was difficult to bounce back for the next shot. I would call myself names, throw clubs, and basically act like a jerk. I worked on my attitude and because of the improvement I earned a college scholarship because my mental attitude was now as good as my physical skills.
A useful technique to control your emotions is a post shot routine. This allows the golfer to learn from the shot they hit without letting it negatively affect the next shot. The post shot routine is about learning from a shot, not being critical of it. After a poor shot, ask yourself was it a mental error or physical error. A mental error would be that you were distracted, had doubt, or weren’t committed to the shot. A physical error would be a poor swing. Look at the ball flight and think of the cause and effect of why the ball went where it went. This is about understanding your game and common patterns. Then before you walk to the next shot take a practice swing exactly how you wanted the shot to go. This allows you to leave the shot with a positive attitude for future shots. I know it is easier to enjoy golf when you are playing well, however golf is like life you must keep going with the ups and downs.
The next area to improve mental toughness is improving the junior’s self-talk. So many juniors become extremely negative with how they react to poor shots. All golfers get frustrated, but you must control what you say to yourself so it doesn’t escalate to anger. The easiest exercise is to write down your normal reaction after a poor shot. Then write down a different way to look at the situation. Champion golfers have looked at poor shots as an opportunity to bounce back instead of looking at it as a failure.
Please if you get anything from this article is to develop mental toughness that even when you hit poor shots you can stay positive and are able to refocus on the next shot. Nobody wants to play with a poor sport and your game will suffer if you let your temper take over. Take control over your emotions by doing a productive post-shot routine and using positive self-talk you will bounce back and be ready for the next shot.
Dr. Rick Sessinghaus PGA, “Golf’s Mental Coach”, is the Author of Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game and coaches at Chevy Chase Country Club in Glendale.
Visit http://www.GolfsMentalCoach.com for more resources on improving your mental game.