Trust the Process
In the October, 2000 issue of Golf Magazine, Dr. Richard Coop wrote an interesting article called "Earning Trust". He referenced a doctoral dissertation at the University of Virginia on how athletes handle a lack of trust in their abilities.
He found that they exhibit three primary errors: First, they jam their brains with mechanical how-to thoughts; second they try to guide or over-control the action; and third, they aim too precisely. Dr. Coop goes on to look at how these errors relate to golf, where doubt and mistrust run rampant and how to spot them in your game. It is a good article and I recommend that you read it.
However, let's don't beat around the bush and let's talk about the REAL problem. What is happening is that you are allowing the emotion of FEAR to enter your mind set. Fear causes a chemical secretion in your brain that plays havoc with your performance. Forget all the excuses, what causes you to lose strokes is the emotion of fear.
The solution to over coming fear is to stay in the present and in the process. First, you have to realize that golf is a game of precision. It is impossible to hit the ball perfectly every time. The more you practice and improve your mechanics the higher your probability of success will be.
The key to shooting lower scores is to improve your mechanics until your probability of success is what you desire. Once you become an unconscious competent, you will not be bogged down with what to think about. You will be able to step up to the ball and execute with only one thought in your mind. You choose what that process thought is for your particular situation, but what ever it is do not be thinking about to many mechanics or the outcome.
Next, he talks about over-control the action, which means trying to be too careful. You are so concerned with trying to make the shot that you have fear and tense up. What you have to do is realize your probability of success and go for it. Learn to relax and live within your ability. Always go for it, but don't get upset when you don't make it. Be brave and make allowances for your imperfections.
Third, you try to be too precise. Dirty Harry said, "A man has to know his limitations." This is important for you to know as well. Don't try to be better that you are. Do what you can do and be done with it. Sometimes you will make it and sometimes you won't. But, expecting to do it every time will lower your probability of success. It's a catch 22. If you want it, you can't have it. If you cast you fate to the winds, you have a better chance of making it.
The key to success is to play within your limitations, work on improving the process and to trust the process. Don't expect to be better than you are, but always strive to be better than you are.
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