Staying Focused in Pressure Moments
Have you ever stood over the ball knowing you needed to hit a great shot?
You could feel the pressure build inside…
Your mind is being pulled in several directions…
“If I make this shot, I will shoot my best score. What if I miss? Okay, calm down and focus. I have to make this. Last time I was in this situation I choked. Deep breath. I need to focus on this shot. Oh my god, my heart is pounding.”
You know that THIS shot will make or break your score.
Well, you are not the only golfer who has been in this situation…
What is it that makes some golfers nail that “make it or break it” shot while other golfers succumb to the pressure?
Let’s look at the example of 22 year-old Maria Torres who recently nailed one of the biggest shots of her career to earn a full tour card for the 2018 season at the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The final qualifier was pressure packed and took place over the course of five days with the top 20 finishers in the field of 165 players earning full cards.
Torres clinched the final spot by winning a three-hole, aggregate stroke-play playoff and became the first player from Puerto Rico to earn full status on the LPGA.
Torres had to battle through many potential distractions if she was to achieve her dream.
TORRES: “That was the longest day ever. This was make it or break it. Knowing that was nerve-wracking, but then having to go to a playoff was unsettling. Everyone is a good player. But it was also exciting, because it felt like I was playing against tour players, and I just had to take advantage of that moment. I viewed the playoff as a second opportunity to make it and to earn full status.”
The key to nailing the “make it or break it” shot is your ability to embrace the situation and block out distractions.
Your ability to perform under pressure depends on the degree to which you can let go of score, the importance of the shot, the last time you were in this situation, your emotions, what others might think about your performance, how you are feeling physically, your nerves, the weather, course conditions, personal issues, your opponent, etc.
As you can see, there are a lot of potential detours in your thinking. You will need to focus on what matters… the process of executing a golf shot.
And focusing on the process is exactly what Torres did to hit that “make it or break it” shot.
TORRES: “I practiced a lot, so I felt like I had done everything I needed to in order to perform. But I just really needed to control my emotions and just go out there and play. I focused on what I could control and just wanted to have fun.”
If you stay focused on the right things, you can also capitalize on that pressure moment.
A Tip Executing The “Make It or Break It” Shot:
Understand that feeling nervous is normal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t perform under the pressure.
Remind yourself that you have this opportunity–one that you dream about–because you have played well enough to be in this situation.
Look at the one shot as an opportunity to succeed instead of a chance to fail.
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