Reframe Your Golf Game

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(Photo by Court Prather.)

Golf like life, offers opportunities, choices, and challenges. In working with elite athletes and performers, I have discovered that it is their framing of choices that typically differentiates them from the rest. Words evoke emotions and emotions create actions and results. Doing things that other’s might consider mundane, unpleasant, or even fearful might be described as “mental toughness,” but how do you get there? “Reframing” is an essential tool.

Reframing is taking your outlook and modifying it into a more passionate desirable state. Too often we operate from need, fear, or lack and that simply brings more of the same to us. So does operating in the opposite mode.

How does your self-talk sound? Are there things about your golf game that you feel you “have to” do or “ought” to do? Is that the way you describe these things to others or silently to yourself? If so, I challenge you to “reframe” this language.

Consider the energy you feel when you or I say we “have to do something” versus “get to do something,” let alone “can’t wait to do something.” Truly elite performers can’t wait to all the associated activities conveying a sense of joy and love. Conversely, others that do things out of obligation or fear (i.e. “If I don’t practice, the competition will bypass me.”) are at an immediate disadvantage energy-wise. After all, energy is what really fuels our performance.

In golf, those with enough talent can usually still excel at an amateur or even collegiate level, but without a true passion for everything, they will suffer at the elite professional level. Their improvement and growth will be stymied. Imagine competing against someone who is in love with preparation and competition.

Think of something about your game that you don’t particularly enjoy, but you know is necessary. How could you reframe that activity? Relish the “why.” That activity may be because it will develop you as a player or as a person. Or it could be because you are in the gym building your mind, meditating to strengthen your equilibrium, or simply being outside alive enjoying your brief time on this planet playing a magnificent game in nature with others. Any reason must fit you individually. The more unpleasant the task; the more creative you will want to be.

Jack Nicklaus shared with me that well into his career he really looked forward to his annual basic checkup (“Jack, this is the grip…”) with his mentor, Jack Grout. Others would quietly scoff at that. Tiger Woods can’t wait to get to the gym and relishes time working on his short game. Now the gyms and short game areas are crowed. Arnold Palmer was known for his all-around passion for their game and it made us love him for it. Basketball player Steph Curry does this with everything and it certainly fuels his preparation and on court performance. All have realized that others may not share their passion and that further enhance their entitlement of winning – a secret unseen advantage. It also becomes their emotional buffer when their progress or performance is disappointing or they have distracting options.

This passion applies to accomplishment in any part of life, but if you aspire to play golf professionally or make larger, longer lasting improvements in your game, you must reframe the “have to” into a “want to.”

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