A few years back, I had one of the most impactful golf lessons of my entire life. At the time I had been struggling mentally during competition to the point of having near anxiety attacks that would leave my hands shaking. In search of a new perspective, I made the trip north to see my friend Matt Palsenburg at The Tour Lab in BC.
For 30 minutes he watched me hit balls. With each shot, I went through my pre shot routine and did my best to execute, anxiously awaiting what Matt’s thoughts were. Little did I know he was about to serve me up the most honest assessment I had ever heard. He said: “You have absolutely no emotional connection to what you are doing, you are simply going through a routine that you believe has to be done in order to have success.”
And he was right! The only reason I took 2 practice swings, walked behind the ball and lined up my shot and then set up to hit it was because way back when someone told me you had to have a pre shot routine in order to play well. So I started doing this routine before every single shot. But the truth is, I was not connected to my process and was just going through the motions. His other observation about my emotional connection was true too. I approached each shot without enthusiasm, and quickly could crossover to anxiety in a flash.
So we spent the next hour discussing a course of action to find my optimal emotional connection with my golf game and how to properly manage my adrenalin on the course. I walked away with a couple of homework assignments that have since morphed into these two driving range games I’m sharing with you today!
The first one comes from the Vision 54 app, one of the coolest tools for any golfer to have in their playbook!
Here’s the plan: Set a timer for 30 minutes and only hit 10 golf balls during that time period. Sounds simple right? The challenge here is to approach each shot as if you are on the course. Find a target, scope the distance, anything you would normally do in the course of a round. Once you execute the shot, you then have to wait around 3 minutes before hitting your next one. You want each shot to be different.
Why?: The goal is to mimic competition here. You only get one chance at a shot when you’re on the course and then have to wait to hit your next one. Doing this drill gives you an opportunity experience those same emotions, especially if the shot does not go as planned. I also like adding in an extra component of writing down what I catch myself saying to myself during the course of this drill.
Next up is my personal favorite and also a nice way to squeeze in a workout 🙂
Here’s the plan: Decide on a shot you want to hit first. Next, you’re going to do 5-10 jump squats or jumping jacks. Once those are complete, the fun starts. You now have 10 seconds to hit the shot! Try this for 10-15 shots varying the club you use throughout.
Why?: In the course of a round of golf, especially in competition, you may experience moments of nervousness and anxiety where your heart rate increases. Yet, you still have to execute the shot. This drill practices exactly that. And as an added bonus, because you only have 10 seconds to hit the shot, your focus turns away from mechanics, and more on to just hitting the shot at your desired target.
Hopefully after completing these two drills you start to see a trend. Some people respond better to slowing things down, while others find that executing quickly brings out something pretty incredible. Each golfer is so different with how they process information and it’s so vital to discover your true identity just like I did that fateful day on the driving range in BC. Each time I practice I do my best to understand myself a little more because ultimately developing a strong sense of self and being true to who you are as an individual is what leads to your best golf!
Give these a try this weekend and let me know how it goes!