How does the below picture make you feel?
Scared, excited, nervous, Relaxed, Worried, Stressed ... All of the above?
I was recently practicing up at Yas Links in Abu Dhabi when they were holding the Yas Open, an amateur event with some of better golfers in the United Arab Emirates playing. Just based on the body language of some of the players and over hearing some conversations before they teed off, I could clearly see who was there to play, and those who might be there to make up the numbers. Does this sound like you, defeated before you have even started?
Now obviously this is supposed to be a fun event, an event that would allow golfers the opportunity to play a wonderful golf course, in tournament conditions. Each of them would have been at the event for different reasons, some to enjoy a couple of rounds with friends, while others would be there to win and gain some of the points up for grabs on the Emirates Golf Federation OOM. I can guarantee you, regardless of the players intention for being at the event, some of the players were beaten before they even pegged the ball up that weekend. Some from a lack of preparation, some from lack of confidence, and some that just let the event get the better of them.
So how could you make this situation feel a bit easier? A bit more comfortable?
Now this can be seen in many different ways and depending on the event, I would prepare completely differently to someone else in the field that week. This also changes drastically for what level of golf you play and what you want to achieve. If your reading this, I'm guessing your pretty keen on your golf so getting a better understanding of preparing for an event can be invaluable. If you put in the work, albeit small amounts if time does not allow, it can make a huge difference in your approach to the event both physically and mentally and give your confidence a boost when stepping on the first tee.
Whether it is your weekly medal, club championship or your first European Tour event, everybody will prepare differently, but it is vital that you do prepare so you can give yourself the best chance to allow your best golf to come out at the right time. This may simply be playing a practice round on a course that you are not familiar with to get an idea of what shots you might need to practice beforehand, or getting some time to practice in the days leading up to the event to understand what shot shape is most comfortable for you to hit at that time. It is all dependant on the individual.
In a previous blog on The Golf Performance Code, we touched upon 'The Three Peaks' in the build up to an event. Now some of you, well pretty much all of us, might not have the time to dedicate three weeks to the build up for an event, but you might be able to dedicate a few hours a day, the week before to get an understanding of where your game is at.
I wanted to give an example of what my preparation might look like for an upcoming event, so that you might be able to take some ideas you like from it and apply it to your own game. For this example Im going to suggest that I have a one week until my event, so it will give you an idea what the build up would look like on every other day.
Tournament Prep week:
We are going to assume you have a golf coach/ understanding about your golf swing and understand some drills they have given you to help in your preparation.
To start the week off, I want to make some commitments and journal them down on a piece of paper. This is a great way to break down what you want to do, how you want to achieve it and the time associated with the task. I would also put down a section on my behaviour and attitude towards my practice. It is very easy to get frustrated and hard on yourself at times if you are testing a certain area of your game, Keep it positive and constructive is the best way to get the most from each days work. I would break this journal down into days and times so you know what you are doing each day to prepare yourself for the upcoming event. At the end of each day I want to make sure that you do a review of the day. What did I do good, bad and indifferent? What can I do better tomorrow? Do I want to make any changes? This just keeps you working in the most efficient manner so you get the most from your days work.
Each day will be totally different and reactive to what you might be working on to get better for the week ahead.
I think for me its vital to get my gym work done in the morning, strength based workouts/ golf specific if any injuries have occurred, at least 4 in the week and mobility and stretching each day.
So here is a few days from an example preparation week:
Wake Up 7am
Breakfast 10 am
Range - 11-12.30
- Set up, Ball position and fundamentals
Short Game 12.45- 2 pm
- Set up, shot variety (Low, medium and high)
Putting 2.30- 4pm
- Setup, mirror work, drills
- Short range putts, 3-8ft arch
- Good, Bad from the day, what can I do better?
Stretch and Mobility
To start the week, spend as much time needed each day woking on the range/ short game area depending on your needs, focusing on the absolute basics. This would be set up and ball position using alignment sticks on the range and addressing any technical work that your coach had given you. For putting, I would be using mirrors and string lines on the putting green to make sure I'm in a neutral setup and eyes are over the ball so Im in a good position from the start. It also gives you feedback during the week should you be struggling that it is not set up based as this gives you a good reference point for the week ahead.
Wake Up 7am
- 9 Ball drill
- 10 Ball Driver Test
Short Game 12.45-2 pm
- 3 Lives wedge test
- Bunker Play, All Sorts...Different scenarios
Play Golf 2.30
- Deliberate Miss 6 holes
- 6 Hole Birdie Blitz
- 6 holes Normal Scoring
- Good, Bad, Need to improve?
- How was my attitude?
Stretch and Mobility
So as the week progresses you can see that we are still working through a plan but the type of practice is starting to be more performance based. You will find a whole host of games on our CoachNow/ UpGame profile that you can add to your practice that will help you stay competitive during your practice. As much as the technical work is important, it is also vital that you stay creative and game like in your approach leading up to the event. Its all very well having a technically pretty swing, but if it doesn't work under pressure practice then it probably won't in your event, so it is vital that you incorporate some performance training as the event gets closer.
Friday - Tournament day prep
This is the day we would look to emulate your first round of your tournament. If you had a couple of weeks preparation, you could actually make this a two/three day event where you had a mixture of tee times in the morning and afternoon to fully achieve what a tournament week would look like. All we are looking to do here is try and set up a competitive game if possible with other players. If you have to do it one your own, no issues, just make sure you go through your full wakeup, warm up and competition routine to make sure you are best prepared to play, like you would do in a tournament week.
Saturday - Day Off
Rest is very important, make sure you take it! Go spend time with friends and family, watch the football or go to the cinema. I normally try to get a workout in at the gym in the morning and then I feel I have the rest of the day to chill and relax, and eat. I really like to eat on my days off as I enjoy food and a good gym session makes you feel a little less guilty if you have a few treats that you like.
Sunday - Last Day of Preparation
Wake Up - 7am
Stretch and Mobility - 7.30-8.30 am
Range Work 9.30-10.30
- 9 Ball drill
- Get your numbers
- 3-8 ft spiral
- 5x15ft putts (How many attempts?)
9 hole Playing 12-2
- Birdie Blitz ( Attempt to make 3 birdies in a row)
- Short sided up and down, How many up/downs?
- Commitments for the week ahead
- How do I want to feel this week?
Stretch and Mobility
Pack your bags
So you're last day is here, make sure you use it wisely. This is when you will be in full performance mode. I think based on where you are playing your event it is vital that you get your yardages for the conditions that you will be playing in. Lots of players now have access to Trackmans and launch monitors to do this. Set the average temperature and altitude of where you will be playing the following week on the launch monitor and it will save you a vast amount of time and guess work when you arrive at your event to know how far you are hitting each club. At this stage the work has been done, the game that you have with you is what you have to play with at your upcoming event, make it work for you with an awesome attitude. This is where you need to create golf shots and get to know the course you are playing. The hard wok is done away from the event, it is now down to you to manage your energy levels and mindset so you are fresh and ready to give it your best come the first round of the event.
I hope this has helped to give you an idea of how preparation might look like before an event. Has your feelings changed now to the picture below? How does it make you feel now that you have prepared properly for your event?
Excited, enthused, ready, prepared?
If you have any questions, please ask away and hopefully you can create a blueprint that works for you to get you both physically and mentally ready to perform at your best. Good luck and enjoy the process. You can never force performance, all you can do is prepare the best way possible and then allow yourself to perform.
Good luck and enjoy!