Good morning everyone.
My students did incredibly well over the (Masters) weekend at their first 'practice' tournaments.
For high level amateurs many (inter-national) tournaments have been cancelled and so to come back to competing so strong right off the bat is something that I have worked on with them intensively because I know it delivers them an advantage. But more so, they deserve this and owe it to themselves. The reality of elite athletes and Olympian champions is that no great performance was ever done leaving parts of their soul at home. They put their heart & soul into doing what it takes. It's something that is a stepping stone to fantastic achievements. It's also creates inner fulfilment while establishing deeper confidence.
One of the talks we had went something like this:
Coach LP: This current situation leaves many of your competitors unable to compete and it’s very likely many will experience huge adjustments and mental fog coming back to compete. It’s just the nature of this challenging global situation. It’s easy then to think that “well, we’re all in the same boat and so if I can’t play with my best focus in the first tournaments, it’s totally okay because everyone else feels this way too”.
Student: Yes, this is exactly what someone else told me. And I have been longing about playing back in my zone. But they mentioned that I shouldn’t worry about that, because it (best focus) will return eventually after a couple of tournaments.
Coach LP: Okay, interesting. And how do YOU feel about that?
Student: Well, in my last practice round I felt like I was so close to playing with my best focus, so I kind of feel like I’m not playing full out and from the heart if I stop now. I know I can play from that state of mental clarity, calmness and confidence. Or should I just drop it, and see what happens in the upcoming tournaments?
Coach LP: What do you want? What do you want to experience?
Student: Playing in my zone. Feeling confident about my game. Create advantage in the ranking early on.
Coach LP: Remember that lesson, what have you previously learned about commitment on the course?
Student: That committing to a shot which I don’t feel 100% in my body and mind is a sabotaging habit, that commitment of the process and feeling it a 100% in body and mind determines so much of my outcome.
Student: Yes!!! I know it. I can decide whatever feels best for me. And my body and mind are telling me they are ready to commit and deliver my best focus.
Coach: I know you do. and I know that you can deliver this effortlessly and easily the moment you decide so, it’s already present within you, you’re just committing to a decision to reveal it. Now remember you should not accept anything as your truth just because “everyone experiences that”.
The end result:
They score when it matters but above all demonstrate mental resiliency, are focused and at ease in body and mind. They dial into the process, into the moment you could say. They show up fully committed, are highly prepared in body and mind, in actions and routines. They are ready. They are more curious, excited and happy to be competing again than they are afraid or nervous. They have the ability to quickly observe negative thought patterns or behaviours without being distracted or taken over by them. They trust in the process that we have already seen has them heading in a great positive direction. They remember to breathe. Play from their heart and experience joy. It inspires them to continue. They are in flow, in alignment.
Which reminds me of this Bruce Lee quote I often read before a coaching session:
A good teacher protects his pupils from his own influence. A teacher is never a giver of truth; he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that each student must find for himself. I am not teaching you anything. I just help you to explore yourself.” - Bruce Lee
I hope this short reflection inspires you as you move towards your upcoming tournaments.
You are capable of so much more, you just have to believe and commit to it. And as you trade the illusion of certainty and old habits for an opportunity to put your heart and soul into your performance, you'll have to let go of some things you've measured for years in the pursuit of mediocre performances or just playing golf. Not everyone has the same comfort level for such a trade.
Have a great day!