Golfers have been avidly following the career of Rory McIlroy over the last few months, if not years. His first three days of play at the Masters 2011 showed us exactly what he could do, although the final day’s play also aptly demonstrated how easily ones golfing game can take a swift turn for the worse.
The same thing happened to Rory more than once, but he showed us what he’s got in glorious form during the US Open this year. Most club golfers can relate to this phenomena, albeit in not quite such an elite golfing field, nor with crowds of spectators and television crews following at your heels.
We club golfers only get exposed to a very small amount of pressure by comparison to that which Rory experienced, but nevertheless, it is still pressure. To be in the lead when playing in a tournament that matters to you elicits feelings that you have probably never experienced before and you have to dig deep inside to find ways in which to cope with them and to conquer them.
Rory McIlroy dug in deep and discovered how to deal with tournament pressure. Who knows exactly how he did it or what clicked for him? Experience is part of it, although many would argue that previous negative experiences build and enhance a negative expectation, making tournament pressure an even more difficult hurdle to overcome.
There are many mental “tricks” which one can use to jog oneself out of a negative expectation and instead step into a positive mental framework. You usually have to try each one more than once to see what best suits your golfing style and personality.
It’s just like trying out different clubs and shots to see what feels most comfortable to you. You don’t pick up a new club and expect perfect results to pop out immediately and consistently. You don’t decide to play a new and unusual shot and expect perfect results immediately. The mental game works exactly the same way.
As Rory displayed to us over the last few months, if your mental game isn’t quite “clicking” when under pressure, you just keep persevering. You dig deeper, explore different possibilities and find the mental approach that works for you. Its important to leave no stone unturned, to believe in yourself and not to be distracted and confused by thinking that its your swing that’s at fault.
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