Do you try too hard on the golf course?

Sports Psychology Tips: Do you try too hard on the golf course?

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Whatever you do, always give 100%!!

We’re given messages from coaches, parents, teachers and guru’s on social media – it’s all about the effort you put in.  “Make sure you give it all that you’ve got.”  “All I want you to do is make sure you give 100%.”

Have you heard this before?  

Yet the more helpful thing to say would arguably be…”when you go out and perform be on your toes, be aware of what’s happening, be smart in what you decide to do.”

Trying hard, really hard, seeking perfection in your technique, looking to shoot low scores or going out to lower your handicap with strict, high and unrealistic expectations of yourself rarely equals great golf. 

In fact, the opposite occurs, by getting caught up in these things that are out of your control and misleading motivators generally causes golfers to try too hard and get frustrated.  They may even go on to snap clubs, curse and swear and behave like young children do when they have a tantrum.

What also happens…

By trying too hard it means that your muscles tighten, it interferes with your rhythm and timing and your decision making. 

Trying too hard causes you to force shots and putts instead of trusting your body to do what it needs to do and what you have trained it to do.

It happens to some of the best too!

In 2020, it was argued by many that Jordan Speith was stuck in this cycle of trying too hard to get himself out of his slump.  After a stellar start to his professional golfing career so much was expected of him.  Every time he stepped on the first tee he was expected to win.   

Here is a quote attributed to Jordan – “It was just the second half of the year (2016) where I would say I may be tried just a bit too hard, didn’t let it come to me, was getting a little frustrated with the lack of first-place finishes,” he said. 

Can you succeed without trying too hard?

Yes, I say!! The way that you will perform at your best more consistently is when you look to perform within your capabilities, irrespective of what your score is or what is happening in your match.

5 Tips if you are ultra competitive and a “trier”!!

  1. Look to “perform within yourself”.   Understand what it is like to hit shots at 90 and 95% when your tempo is smooth, relaxed and controlled. 
  2. When you practice ensure that you spend a portion of time “focusing on the process”.  What I mean is practicing as you would on the golf course with a “playing mindset” not a “practice mindset.”  
  3. Use visualisation and see yourself playing in a relaxed and effortless way.  Rehearse in your mind shots, putts and the time you spend walking on fairways in this manner.  Many golfers when they describe the zone “they say it feels easy and not forced.”
  4. Accept that you can switch on and off between shots and still play well.  You won’t automatically forget what to do when you stand over your next shot!  Having fun, laughing, chatting is permitted if you allow yourself.  You can then stand over the shot with your full focus and attention as many top professional golfers do.  
  5. Consider what you did in past performances, think about your thoughts, timing, temperature and tension levels (The 4T’s).  For more on the 4T’s you’ll benefit from tuning into this podcast episode which features European Tour player Chris Paisley, Leading Sports Psychologist to many major champions Gio Valiante and Top Putting Coach Andy Gorman

You may also find our selection of Golf Podcasts and Golf Blogs hugely helpful in getting the enjoyment back in your game and transferring your best golf from the range to the course.

For frustrated golfers and athletes who feel they aren’t getting the most from their talents this short 60 minute online course may be just what you are after to provide a kick start to your season.

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.  

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.  

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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