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HEAD GAMES The game of golf is played by people of most ages. It is a game that is enjoyable to a range of people from amateurs to professionals like Phil Mickelson. Anyone who has played the game can tell you that your mental awareness is a huge factor in the progress of your game. According to Dave Pezzino, “When it comes to scoring, its 99.9 percent mental.” Golf is not the only sport that is mental. Stress levels play apart in performance in almost any competition. Anxiety becomes extremely influential in an individual’s performance that can be good or bad. When it comes down to it, an athlete still needs to have basic skill, but to take advantage of one’s potential you need to understand the importance of stress levels in productivity. According to the Mental health Foundation, Stress can be defined as “the way you feel when you’re under abnormal pressure.” Stress helps keep the mind readily alert for what might happen next. Stress actually allows athletes to perform better by increasing the excitement. Your body reacts to stress by producing

By: Charlie Barnard adrenalin and noradrenalin because your body wants to be ready to more effectively “fight or run-away” from whatever is causing the stress. Your body’s instinct takes over to stay away from what could be potential harm. When your body is more ready to fight or run, it is also more ready to run faster, jump higher and lift more. It is like an extra surge of temporary power. When playing in golf tournaments, your setting is not always going to be ideal. There could be a light breeze, too cold, too hot, or maybe raining. All of which could raise stress levels. Wind will cause you to question yourself one how you should approach the hole. Contradicting ideas caused by the wind can stress a golfer out and they might mess up their shot. No matter what, you still have to out play your opponent. When it comes down to that last putt, the most important one, you have to be in control of your stress. The Mental Health Foundation has found you have to be careful, stress is only helpful if it is short lived, prolonged stress can lead to physical and emotional


exhaustion. skills must be learned and practiced in order to be suc The fun aspect of golf that keeps golfers cessful. of all skills on the golf course is the idea that one can Most professional golfers develop a strict always be better. Golf is a game where you compete routine for every shot other than the tap in putts. It is against yourself. In tournaments, you may be coma strategy that prepares their mind for extreme conpeting against other players, but at the end of the day, centration. A well-known professional, Tiger Woods there is nobody standing between you and the eighhas a six step putting routine that takes a little over a teenth hole. You must beat yourself to win. According minute. His routine gets so specific that he actually to Bob Rotella, “You will never know if you have the walks clockwise around the hole after marking his ball ability to be the best player in the world, or the best to examine the green as the article Putting Routine player in your club, unless you commit yourself to -- How Tiger Does It exclaims. When Tiger steps up to developing both your physical and mental skills.” Your the ball, he always puts his left foot first before bringmind controls your muscles and no matter how many ing his right foot into his stance. He rocks back and times you have swung a golf club “If your head is filled forth until he is comfortable in his footing and when with bad thoughts, your scorecard is going to be full of he looks back and forth at the hole and the ball, it’s the bad strokes.” Many coaches tell their players to envisame as his last putt as learned in Putting Routine -sion themselves winning to create a positive attitude. How Tiger Does It. This is why Chevy Chase in Caddyshack One way to cope “Golfers at every level need to with influences the technique “be the ball” high stress and the oh so famous “Na na nana” when be proactive about forming levels is to relax putting. All he is doing is envisioning the understand and then practicing strategies and ball going in the hole. why you are so Jon Wortman transformed the for effective coping with stress” stressed. When in University of Connecticut’s golf team the moment you A Good Game of Golf Mind into a group of guys that all finished in need to realize the the top ten at the end of the year. “It’s all Over Matter. connection beabout focus,” he stated, Wortman blames tween being tired golfers mistakes not on their swing, but the decision or ill and the pressure of the stress you are faced with. making process on the course. If a golf lesson can fix Golf, even though consist of getting a ball into a hole your swing, then anyone from 400 yards away who could afford one becomes a much more should be great at golf. complicated sport when The reason that it is so the idea of stress is includhard to become great at ed. Many factors add up golf is because while a that can make or ruin your lesson can fix your swing, day. Many golfers leave the it cannot fix your game. course pissed off at a day of Once you are frustrated, missed putts and shanked your swing will be all drives. A good golfer over the place and you doesn’t let mistakes get to will lose your consistency them and doesn’t build up that makes a good golfer. stress through the day. ImOne strategy taught by Wortman is to play one shot at provements can always be made and stress levels will a time and when distracted or when thoughts start to always exist. Knowing how to cope with stress can lead run through your head, stop, clear your mind and start to more wins and more fun. Likewise, one can improve over. One way to do this is when you feel uncomforttheir academic performance by coping with stress. able, step off the ball and regain your strength.   In many sports, athletes try to improve their game by focusing on the technical side rather than the mental side of the game. Like technical skills, mental


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