Nothing is worse than stepping into a shot and feeling really uncomfortable over the ball. Hitting under these conditions usually leads to a poor shot. You can learn to neutralize your golf fear so you can hit a good shot using three simple steps.
Your discomfort over any shot is due to some sort of fear. A fear response isn’t always as pronounced as shaking hands or feeling like you’re going to toss the protein bar you ate for breakfast. More subtle levels of fear might feel like bit of self doubt in the back of your mind, worrying about messing up, or being uncertain about where the ball might go.
Fear is a Great Inner Tool
Fear cannot be ignored. Nor should it be. Because unresolved fear will have a physical impact on your swing action.
Your fear is actually an asset. So rather than getting disrupted by it when it crops up you can learn to neutralize your golf fear by leveraging it.
My business coach used to say that fear is simply lack of information. When you experience any degree of fear I’d like you to recognize it as a wake-up call to the fact that your shot plan is missing some necessary details. The presence of a gap in your shot plan will prevent you from being able to fully commit to the shot. Without commitment backing up your swing you cannot swing at your best.
On the golf course, we’re talking about imagined fear, not the kind of fear that keeps you safe in life and death situations. The best way to neutralize imagined fear is by taking a moment or two to fill in the information gaps.
A gap might be an unresolved question (is this enough club), a clear observation that something is wrong (the ball is teed up too high), or a past negative memory that you are worried you might repeat. Once you’re aware that you are feeling uncomfortable, give yourself permission to answer the fear wake-up call and neutralize your golf fear by following these three steps ~
#1 – Hit the pause button
Likely, you’ve read this recommendation from me before. It’s easy to want to rush when you are uncomfortable to just “get the shot over with.” But that’s a knee-jerk reaction to your fear, not a solution.
You can’t just hope for a good outcome and proceed to barrel through the shot.
The first thing you’ve got to do is slow down to give yourself the time to reset your thoughts and close the information gap. Give yourself a chance to get your mind back under your direct control so you can step into the shot with 100% confidence.
The more you’re playing with a great mindset, the more freely and precisely you will swing.
#2 – Make sure you are planning and picturing hitting only ONE type of shot — a GOOD one
Even the most seasoned golfer can sometimes fall into the habit of entertaining more than one shot at a time. What I mean is thinking about the shot you want to hit and the 1, 2, or even 3 other shots you hope you don’t.
In addition, you want to avoid planning a good shot, for example an approach to the green, while also thinking, “And if I hit it long I can still get up and down here.” While that might seem like a positive outlook, in this example you are also contemplating a shot failure. Whenever you think about what could go wrong you decrease the opportunity for you to hit a shot right.
Make sure that you are always planning and picturing hitting only one good shot.
#3 – Lock down the details of your plan
If there’s any “fuzziness” to your plan it will be impossible to confidently commit to it. Lacking specific shot details can open the door to fear of what could go wrong because you haven’t determined how everything can and will go right in your mind.
The more well-articulated your shot plan, the easier it is for your brain to tell your body what to do. When there are details missing your discomfort over the ball is your subconscious is saying, “Hey, you know what, we don’t have all the data.”
Fuzzy plans lead to sketchy outcomes. Commit to lay out a detailed shot plan so that what you want to do is very clear, very simple, and very doable in your mind.
Fear doesn’t have to cause problems during your round if you take the time to use it to your advantage.
Leave me a comment below and let me know where you’ve had some recent uncomfortable moments in your game that you think you can neitralize your golf fear by following this process. I’d love to hear from you.
And if you’re ready to have a conversation with me about how you can start playing with more consistency and confidence CONTACT ME to set up a consultation call.
Mike Thompson says
Shannon that was very instructive. The one shot that I have a tendency to sometimes fear is a chip shot. I am a very good chipper of the ball but My frequent miss is a fat shot. . Therefore that is my fear. But I have learned that if I think about where I want the ball to land, my target., I hit a good shot. Your 3 step process confirms that is what I should be doing.
Mike, Thanks for reading and sharing your experience with chip shots. I know you are not alone in that fear that can crop up from time to time. You are correct that pointing your attention at the target and not on the ball is the right direction we want your mindset to go. I am glad you found the 3 steps a confirmation. 🙂
Great info Shannon. I’m finally getting back to golf and working on fearless putting. Giving myself time to plan the putt, believe in that plan, and ONLY think about the one good shot was needed today. I’ll be back practicing this good routine tomorrow before playing Saturday. Appreciating your words of wisdom.
Marghy, Glad to hear that you received a good reminder of where to invest your focus. Keep up the great work on your mental game!