Practicing Under Pressure - 30 Day Challenge

Released Friday, 22nd April 2016
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Week three of the 30 day challenge, coming at you!

This week we are looking at different practice routines that teach us how to perform in pressure situations.  Let's get right to it!

Practice #1: The Seven Second Drill

This drill comes from PGA instructor David Heinen, former coach of Vijay SIngh, and head instructor at the Kaizen Golf Academy and it's a really good one!

One of the biggest ways people stumble under pressure is how long they take while standing over the ball, in that pressure packed moment.  Think back to Dustin Johnson's three putt at the 2015 US Open.  Even the commentators noticed that he took a lot of extra time over those putts, essentially psyching himself out.

Last week we talked about the Think Box/Play Box technique.  This almost like the big brother of that drill, here's how it works:

  • Stand behind the ball (in your Think Box) and decide the plan for that shot.

  • Once you leave your Think Box (with your decision made) start counting out loud down from seven.

  • You MUST hit your shot before you get to zero.  If you don't, it's time to start over start over.


That's really all there is to it!  When working on the driving range I want you to write down how many repetitions it takes before you are feeling consistent, comfortable, and confident executing your shots within seven seconds.  Some clubs might take more reps than others, and that's okay, just make sure you keep track of it.

***For bonus points see if you can trim it down to five seconds!***

Here's how this drill really benefits the golfer.  By limiting our time to execute the shot, we simply don't have enough time to second guess ourselves.  It forces us to go with the gut feeling, regardless of whether or not it's the right one.  This always makes me think of one of my favorite quotes from Bernhard Langer.



The second way we're going to learn how to better perform under pressure is to simulate it in our practice.  Go back to your last really pressure shot, what did it feel like?  Faster heart beat, tunnel vision, racing thoughts?  If we can simulate these feelings in our practice we will be much better prepared for those circumstances.  Here's how we do it:

Practice 2: Golf Suicides

In order to properly do this drill you have to elevate your heart rate.  You can do this through jumping jacks, burpees, or even running in place.

  • Pick 10 different targets

  • Hit to them going through your normal routine.  

  • Write down the number of times you hit your target.

  • Repeat the exercise with 10 new targets doing your exercise of choice for 10 reps (or at least 10 seconds) between each shot.

  • Record how many times you hit your target.

  • Continue to do this exercise until your success rate under pressure matches your normal success rate.


You should always try to make your practice harder than your actual play, so incorporating this style of practice can help several different parts of your game, putting included!

Practice 3: Handling Pressure In the Moment

If you haven't had a chance to work on the previous drills this one can help you on game day.  In an interview with Geoff Greig, PGA instructor and Amazon best selling author.  What Geoff has discovered is that if we hum while we swing we can interrupt the analytical side of our brain which is often responsible for over thinking.

By humming while you swing it lets your body just react rather than over processing the information while under then gun and succumbing to the pressure.

Here's what you do to get the maximum affect:

  • While swinging the club try to hum and keep a steady pitch.

  • The more steady the pitch during your swing, the smoother and more reactionary you've swung.


To measure our progress we're going to track the same things as the previous practice.


  • Pick 10 different targets

  • Hit to them going through your normal routine.  

  • Write down the number of times you hit your target.

  • Repeat the exercise with 10 new targets humming during each shot.

  • Record how many times you hit your target.

  • Continue to do this exercise until your success rate under pressure matches your normal success rate.


The great thing about this is that it is easily transfer to on course play!  It will help you get over the big moments on the course, by removing the analytical side of the brain, which is the one that amplifies the pressure.

That's all for this week, next up will be some game day mental strategies.

Cheers!

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