Do you expect things to go as planned?

I saw this post earlier today and I couldn’t help thinking how much it relates to golf and the way we approach it.

So often, we set high expectations for ourselves, especially when we’ve been working hard on a particular aspect of our game, like chipping, putting, or driving.  Then when things don’t go as planned we stop having fun.

The problem is that this way of approaching the game, makes it harder to perform well.  It gets in the way.  Or rather, our expectations get in the way.

I want to make a distinction between this and confidence.  You can have confidence without expectations getting in the way.  Confidence is a great thing to have.  In fact it’s what we want to develop in our game.  We want to have confidence that we can hit the shot we’ve committed to hitting.  But I think the greatest confidence comes from knowing that you’ll be all right even if things don’t go as planned.

Watching tournaments on tv you’ll often hear players who are playing well talking about the way they felt during the round.  They knew that even if they missed some shots, that they’d be able to get up and down.  This kept them in the moment.

You’ll see the opposite from players who are playing poorly.  Every bad shot is an arrow through the heart of their confidence.  Every bad shot makes them more miserable.  Frustration sets in and bad shots begin to pile up.

It’s not easy to play without expectations.  But I’ve found a few techniques that help.

1) Focus on this shot right now.  Forget about what happened on the last shot, or the last hole, or the front nine.

2) Make a conscious realization that if the shot doesn’t go as planned, you’ll still be ok.  Golf isn’t life or death.  It’s a game.  It’s a maddening game, but it’s just a game.  Learning to let go of the outcome is incredibly powerful for many reasons.

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