Controlling your emotions.

With the advances in neuroscience and the ability to study a persons emotional response to an event, this information is starting to be used to help develop the necessary skills to deal with pressure situations in competition.

All athletes need emotions to perform, in fact they thrive on emotions but can they manage them correctly in order to help their performance.  In the game of golf we are constantly dealing with our emotions based on the out come of shots that we hit. 

Emotions relate to feelings and behaviors and according to performance coach Tony Faulkner of they make us aware of three key points.

1. They notify us of important events, both good and bad – they get our attention, they focus us, consciously and sub consciously – emotions are an attention-focusing feature.

2. They motivate people to behave and deal with specific events. They create an urge an impulse.

3. They produce changes in the body – biological response.

All to often we try and reduce pressure situations, during practice we are told to relax and things can often seem easy but in competition if we don’t practice pressure situations and dealing with our emotional response, it can be difficult to perform when faced with these situations.  This is the difference between elite level athletes and amateurs, they relish competition and thrive in pressure situations, and to prepare for this they often create those situations during their practice sessions.  They do this by creating games or competitions to test themselves that have consequences.  

These are some of the things you can do to help create golf practice sessions that will put you in the emotional state that you may have to deal with on the golf course.

1. Skill Tests – This is an excellent way to practice under pressure, create a test on the driving range that you do each time you practice.  Establish a scoring system so you can check and see if you’re improving.

2. Compete against a partner – select a shot to hit and create a game like Horse or Out  (see the attached drill).

3. Always play for something – this creates that feeling of competition and gets you focused.  You can do this with a friend, caddie or even yourself.

4. Create visual situations – On the driving range visualize holes on the golf course and play them on the driving range.

5. Have a Challenge – For example, I have to hole 10 in a row before I move on to the next putt, etc.

By creating practice that replicates play, you can learn to control your emotions and play better golf. Check out some of the drills to the right of this article. 

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