Preparing for the ‘Big One’

Whatever that is in your world, local Club Championship, Monthly Medal, the British Open. How do you apply the very best in mental skills to prepare?

Bad news first, ideally any preparation for this would need to already be in place i.e. to not do anything different that you would apply to any game, except where you are adding additional interference by thinking more about it.

Good news, I’m determined to live in the real world and give you something really useful to recognise most of you don’t have sound mental routines and habits in place and this match is one that you might start thinking about preparing.

1. First notice how you are thinking about this and wherever possible ‘stop it!’ that’s ‘less’ except for the list below is always better, just notice the thought, clench your fist to represent it and while releasing hand say ‘let it go’ and make a commitment to give it your full attention when you arrive at the course (called timelock).

2. Definitely have a plan for this round and strategy for the opening shot(s). Write out a shot plan for the first two shots of each hole, pars 4 & 5 (par 3s you need to know the pin position and for some of us even see that as a lay up in some conditions).

Sit down quietly and only put down shots you can feel confident about (honestly)
Stick to it, only change would be if conditions or how you feel dictate you go safer.

3. Obviously remove unwanted distractions (clear your mind) from the day. Get ‘everything!’ ready well in advance right down to spare battery for your range finder.

4. Have one specific purpose e.g. commit to every shot, commit to plan, whatever happens, commit to shot ritual. Focus on the process, not the score.

5. And lastly, generally have normal routines (e.g. practice, warm up, arrival time, sleep previous evening etc.) again in an ideal world you would have built ‘habits’ around how you (as a unique individual) prepare to perform in your version of the zone.

So in summary, think less, stick to your plan and if in doubt always focus on your breathing.

About Peter Taylor

Msc .MCIPD Personal Development Trainer Mindcoach to Hampshire golf union school of excellence
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One Response to Preparing for the ‘Big One’

  1. Chris Phillips says:

    Peter, having worked with you in the past I can absolutely confirm that this is the way forward. It all sounds so simple but as a 17 handicapper I had struggled to accept that it is actually that simple. Fed up with people telling me I hit the ball well enough to be a 12 handicap my frustration was beginning to boil until I stopped and analysed what I was doing and what was going wrong where.

    Once I had broken down the problem areas and had a plan to deal with them such as taking an iron on a tight par four that is stroke index 1 for a reason and being happy with a 5 rather than annoyed at a 7, things started to click into place to the point that only a couple of weekends ago I managed to shoot a relaxed net 64, 9 over, to cut my handicap to 13.6.

    The believe in my ability and trust in the plan all lead to a very satisfying round where even a couple of shots were left out there. I would have to say thought that there is still work to do on my control of this as the mind started to waiver towards the green on the 16th knowing I was on for a good score. Trying to keep focused on the shot in hand as I had done all round became difficult due to the distraction of potentially and ultimately winning the monthly medal. The breathing helped and clear clarification between thinking and playing ensured a par on the last and a big sigh of relieve.

    The problem I have now is that there are now a whole new set of plans required for some holes due to the reduction in shots. It is exciting getting a nice cut in the handicap but do you recommend a change in the level of process and planning you describe above as I get lower or do the same principles apply no matter what level I am aspiring to? I feel I need to step up a gear.

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