Letting Go of Fear in Golf

Golfers experience fear in many different situations, be it when you are standing on the first tee, or holing out on the eighteenth green, or when you are thinking about driving the golf ball inside a line of trees or pitching a ball over water. The golfer’s fears can relate to what other people think, or a lack of belief in your own golfing ability. Some of us find that the putter or the wedge takes on the feel of a snake or an octopus in our hands. Some of us freeze; some sweat and some move more quickly…Some stop playing golf.

Golfing fears range from global to specific. You play golf, or any sport, from the platform of you the person. You play your golf within the constraints of your physical body, your mind and your emotions. Mind works on body and body works on mind. How many times have you thought, or said out loud, “I have a mental block with…”? A negative thought creates a blockage in your physiology – this is FACT. Every thought you have has energy, and the neurotransmitters in your brain take the thought information to every cell in your body.

It has been shown that to repress anger for twenty minutes will suppress your immune system for up to eight hours. EIGHT HOURS. So when you are standing over the golf ball, it is worth remembering that just thinking “I’m going to duff this one” actually has the power to trigger off a PHYSIOLOGICAL response, whereby the neurotransmitters in your brain transport that information to your cells…and you know the outcome. It is inevitable – you have programmed your body to duff that shot. And saying “don’t” doesn’t work either. By this I mean “Don’t duff this one” or “don’t go in the bunker”. In such a case the words are saying “don’t go there” but the emotional energy is going DIRECTLY there.

Where there is a conflict between your will power and your imagination your imagination wins. Your mind is exquisitely talented. You can be standing on the tee with four hundred yards of fairway stretching in front of you, with a bunker that’s just two by two, and actually manage to get the ball into that bunker just by THINKING “don’t go there”. Every thought has energy. The level of energy depends on the emotional value attached to the thought. The more intensely you experience the emotion, the more pronounced the result. Your thoughts create your emotions and direct your actions.

Everything starts with a thought. And you can choose your thoughts, although you may not have realized this. It always amazes me how many people acknowledge that they have a MENTAL block with putting, or chipping or their driver, and yet proceed to tackle the problem from a physical perspective – either buying a new club, consulting a different coach, or just standing hitting ball after ball on the practice range – rather than asking themselves how they could change their thinking. And as Einstein pointed out, if you keep on doing the same things over and over again, you can hardly expect the results to change. The fact is, if you have a mental block all you have to do is to explore your thoughts and choose to change them.

What I suggest to successful golfers, and what works for them, is to develop as many mental skills as you have shots. In your mind now, count the number of clubs in your golf bag and the different types of shot you can hit with each one…just make a quick calculation and you will realize how many mental skills in golf there are that you can choose to learn. As you practice your mental golf skills you get better at them.

If you are building strength in the gym, the number of repetitions and the weights you use will determine the result. If you are learning a new shot in golf the number of times you practice it will determine its effectiveness and consistency. The same applies with the acquisition of mental skills for golf. To go to a hypnotherapist or golf psychologist and then not practice the skills decided upon is like having your golf lesson and never practicing. And I’m sure you have met as many people as me who say “that didn’t work”, when the reality is they didn’t give it a chance to work. The teacher can only ever be as good as the student. The teacher can only guide, the student learns.

So many people simply say “but I can’t do it”, or some equivalent negative. And if you think you can’t, you can’t. You don’t even get past go. But if you are willing to approach the situation from a different perspective…a whole new golf game can emerge for you.

It is well known that children “have minds like sponges”, that they find it easier to learn and that it gets increasingly more difficult to learn as you get older. This is because up until the age of 7, during the imprinting period of development, the subconscious mind is completely open to suggestion. And from then to the age of 12, the modeling period, the conscious mind is forming, and after that the conscious mind filters everything before it is assimilated into the subconscious.

Whatever beliefs you have, they are just beliefs, nothing more. There is no need to be held back by limiting beliefs. You can choose to change beliefs no matter how deep rooted they are. Just as you go for a mechanical lesson from your golf professional, you may need a little help or direction from a golf psychologist, but all beliefs can be changed.

You have a body and a mind that has a similar physiology and neurology as the best golfers in the world. Athletic literature is full of examples of athletes who have excelled because of their internal desire, rather than the physical attributes such as size, strength, power or speed. There are tall golfers and short golfers, male and female golfers, young and old golfers. It is not age or body shape that prescribes ability. It is your MIND that makes the difference. What the mind can perceive, the mind can believe and the mind can achieve.

You have the ability to play golf well. How good you get will depend on what you want to get out of the game. It is your choice – you can be as good as you want to be. The most important thing is to set your own goals, and enjoy your golf – it’s a game and should be fun. Unfortunately many people overlook this fact, and allow worries and fears to get in their way. Fear is something that we learn through experience. Fear of embarrassment and fear of failure result in many adults not even attempting to learn a new task. Returning to the subject of children, we are not born with fear. Think about when a baby learns to walk. How many times does that baby teeter along and then fall, and then try again, and fall over again and try again, until eventually they can walk? If that child was worried about embarrassing him or herself, would they have learnt to walk? A baby will persevere time and time again, and has absolute trust that they will be able to learn that skill – otherwise they would not learn that skill.

The most important factor to grasp here is that what other people think doesn’t matter…but what you think does. What the mind can perceive, the mind can believe and the mind can achieve.

Roseanna Leaton, specialist in golf hypnosis cds and hypnosis mp3 downloads.