Recently, one of the college students whom I work with came home from school. He had a wonderful fall season, but didn’t do so well in the spring. He had made a few swing changes, but seemed like he was on a good path. His poor play was something neither of us had seen coming. After meeting and looking at his swing, I was surprised to note that his swing was better than it was before the spring season. The changes looked good, but it didn’t appear as though it felt natural for the student. While talking about the past few months, I could hear the desperation in his voice; he just wanted to play great golf. I knew right then that the problem wasn’t in trusting the swing changes, it was that he was putting too much pressure on himself and hitting the panic button too often. If he didn’t have a fast start, he felt like he was behind. From that point forward, instead of being satisfied with par, he felt like he could never catch up. His swing was tight with poor rhythm and he couldn’t get into a good routine. As competitive golfers, we have all been there, practicing harder than we ever have before, playing more rounds than normal, and analyzing every thought or process about our game. Then, when tournament time rolls around, the moment we have been preparing for, our performance doesn’t match our effort. What happened? We put too much pressure on each shot and don’t allow the scoring to come to us. Going back to my student and how we ended our conversation. I forced him to take two weeks off from golf. No range time, putting green, or even a fun round with buddies. But I did make him watch tournament golf on TV. So that’s what he did: observation, but no play or practice. After the two weeks, we discussed what he learned from this assignment. He talked about how the players he watched seemed like they were playing for a score versus working on their swing. They missed greens in the right places, hit less than driver off the tee on some holes, and didn’t seem too upset when they made a par on an easy par-5, or even a bogey. This is exactly what he needed: a little break to get back to what is important, scoring. If you or a student is in this rut, step back and take some time away from the clubs. It just might do the trick.
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