One of the best golf mindset tips is to manage your expectations
Winning a golf tournament is difficult, winning the next tournament or defending your title the following year can be even more challenging. Many golfers feel the bar has been raised after a tournament victory or a great round of golf. The rising expectations of others and yourself can create subtle differences to your approach to playing golf. Some golfers try to “play it safe” fearing that they many double-bogey a hole instead of being aggressive. The “play-it-safe” mentality never leads to optimal play. Playing it safe puts fear in the driver’s seat and creates anxiety, tension and changes to your mechanics, eventually causing you to crash and burn.
Let’s see an example of how slight changes in expectations can cause you to veer off course and negatively affect your golf game. French golfer Alexander Levy turned pro in 2010 after a successful amateur career. In 2014, Levy won the 2014 Volvo China Open then won the Portugal Masters six months later. With two European Tour victories under his belt, the expectations for the 2015 season were high. Unfortunately, Levy has had difficulty replicating his success from the previous year. During the 2015 season, Levy has only placed in the top-ten twice in 18 tournaments.
Levy described his approach to playing golf when he was performing his best during 2014.
LEVY: “I am just thinking to take pleasure [in golfing]. Just enjoy being on the golf course and see the shot and play the shot and you see what’s happening.”
There is no hint of fear in Levy’s mindset when he had his breakout season in 2014. Levy seemed totally immersed in the moment: seeing the shot, playing the shot, seeing the result then playing the next shot. This mentality does not imply Levy didn’t care if he won or not. In fact, it was this “playing in the moment” mentality that contributed to his victories.
As Levy geared up to defend his 2014 China Open title, he decided to return to his “playing in the moment” mentality rather than the cautious mindset that restricted his game.
LEVY: “I wasn’t playing very well at the start of the season, so I just decided to go back to what I was doing before – playing more aggressively, and not thinking about things too much. It seems to be working.”
Instead of fearing a bad shot and playing tentatively, Levy rid himself of unrealistic expectations, going for his shots and returning to a mentality of “See the shot, play the shot and see what happens.”
Examine your expectations. Ask yourself,
“What do I expect from myself on the golf course?”
Do you expect perfection or excellence?
Do you play it safe for fear you will make a mistake or do you play aggressively understanding mistakes are a part of the game?
Understanding your expectations is the first step in letting go of expectations, immersing yourself in the moment and “Seeing the shot, playing the shot and seeing what happens.” If you can adopt this mentality, you will be putting yourself back in the driver’s seat and on the road to optimal golf.
Would you like to know how good your mental game skills are?