When you have the lead, followed closely by several others who arguably have the same ability as you, how do you stay calm and keep ahead? And how do you manage this feat two weeks running?
Yani Tseng has only been on tour for five years and she already has 15 wins under her belt. She has great ability and great focus. Maintaining your lead on the last day of a tournament is no easy feat. Amateur golfers find this a challenge too, and for us there is no money or career on the line. Even for we amateurs our emotions can get a little heated and we have to find a way to control them and keep clear focus upon the task in hand.
We saw McIlroy falter a few times with Sunday play last year before he eventually found his way to taming his emotions and forging ahead to maintain his lead and win tournaments. The majority of golfers go through a similar cycle of experience when faced with the pressure of being in the lead on the final day of a tournament that matters to them.
Some lucky golfers have not had to go through this pattern in quite the same manner. Rather they are more naturally mentally equipped to get the bit between their teeth and win. Basic personality has a big part to play at these times. This doesnt mean that others cannot tame their emotions and groom their minds to win. It just takes a little more effort. The mental part can be difficult to control but it can be done.
Yani Tseng said after her two consecutive wins that on that final Sunday she didnt feel that it was a Sunday and she didnt feel that she had a three shot lead. Rather, her focus was purely upon playing one shot at a time. She wasn’t thinking about winning. She was focused in the moment of each shot. This is no easy feat, but she managed it well.
A golfer who is in the lead has to manage more than their focus. You have to manage your state as well. Emotions have a tendency to bubble up and disturb your focus. Emotional reactions are instinctive and automatic and can just appear. Thus if you have an automated reaction pattern that triggers a heightened emotional state, a golfer has to be able to control their state before they can return to clear focus.
Only when your state is under control can you clearly focus upon taking one shot at a time. A golfer can prepare themselves mentally for competition by visualizing themselves in the lead and imagining themselves controlling their state or indeed triggering a better state automatically.
Hypnosis is very helpful as it allows access to your subconscious mind. This is the part of your mind where automatic patterns of response and behavior are stored. Also your creative mind is better engaged whilst in hypnosis, and visualization has more depth.
Post hypnotic suggestions can be made to trigger an automatic response that promotes a controlled state and also clear focus. In this way you can mentally prepare yourself for dealing with the otherwise unexpected pressures of being in the lead.
Roseanna Leaton, golf addict and specialist in golf hypnosis mp3s and author of the GolferWithin golf mind training system.
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