In the last year given the variety of difficulties the entire world has suffered, one thing that stood out to me was just how little we are actually in control of day to day. To take that one step further I have also realised that the more time and attention that we give these things in our life, the more stress and anxiety we ultimately end up creating for ourselves.
We all have our own individual individual challenges day to day, this could be just about anything from issues at work, to money problems or even just simply the stress of struggling to improve your scores and reach your goals. No matter what those issues are, its severity is only relevant to the importance that we personally place on it. However, all to often we build these issues up so much that they become far more difficult to overcome than they ever need to be.
So how can we prevent this from happening? The simple answer is that we need to switch our focus and attention onto the things that are actually within our control.
This can be done in a number of ways, and my mind jumps to a recent example of a talented young junior player which I coach. As his performance slowly improved over the course of the season, his mind began to wander during the closing stages of a round when he looked like he could have an opportunity to shoot a good number. As his focus switched to "getting over the finish line", mistakes were almost inevitable!
After this had happened a couple of times he was strong enough to come to me and mention his frustration at this happening. First and foremost for a young man to do this shows something special, but the fact he was open to improving it shows that he is above all else a fighter. We came to the conclusion that we needed to focus on two aspects:
1) Staying more in the present, and making sure that our focus remained on the task at hand at all times
2) Control items that are within our control, while accepting that outcomes and results are out of our control.
The idea we put in place was another take on something that Louis Oosthuizen did when he won the open Championship. We simply took a sharpie and drew a small dot on his glove. The objective was that before he began his pre-shot routine he must first look at the dot on the glove, this would then trigger the beginning of him engaging with the target and focusing on the shot in front of him. Once he hit the shot his second task was to look at the dot again, thus ending that particular shot his second task was to look at the dot again, thus signalling an end to that particular shot, and allowing him to move forward to the next shot.
We then scored this drill on each hole by assessing if he did this on every shot or not, if he did then at the bottom of the scorecard he would receive a tick, and if not then he would just continue to the next hole with the task restarting again, and the opportunity to get another tick restored. The goal was to accumulate as many ticks as possible throughout the round. The great thing about this task is that it ticks a number of boxes required to achieve High Performance on the golf course: 1) It ensures that your focus remains on the items within your control at all times 2) It keeps your attention in the present, absorbed on the task at hand 3) It helps to diffuse any negative emotions that may be attached to a bad shot 4) Creates a clear and consistent start and finish to every pre shot routine Overall his results were excellent, his first tournament trying this drill he managed a total of 17 ticks which was outstanding! This is a drill that I would strongly recommend for any golfer to try, there are a number of benefits from doing so no matter what level you compete at.