Archive Monthly Archives: November 2008

Stress is killing your scores

I want to wake you up to something that very few golfers and instructors are aware of and even less teach you anything about how to deal with it…

stress kills not only your body, but your game.
I’m always teaching my golfers and other athletes that the way you live is the way you play. The mental attitudes you practice at home and work are what you use at the course. Time after time we watch a great pro at the top of his game suddenly fall off the leaderboard for months or even years. When we read about him/her, we find out about marital problems, substance abuse (can you say John Daly) and other such issues off the course.

Athletes in my office all learn how to use the tools that they will use on the course at home and at work to prepare for that eventual pressure situation in competition. And by the way, competition also means competing with yourself for your best rounds.

This all reminds me of the days when I was a stressed-out manager at Fedex Express. It’s no wonder that I struggled for so long with golf while I was so poor at managing my life, especially with regards to stress. At the course, when I faced pressure, I tensed up and my body created anxiety over the putts I needed to make. That response worked great for work but not for my golf game. I didn’t know any different back then.  The inevitable choke followed that anxiety.

At that time, golf itself was a major stress reliever but I didn’t put two and two together that my stress load was actually part of the problem keeping me from reaching my golf goal of breaking 80. Looking back, I carried that stress in my body from work right on over to the course.

In many surveys, doctors are reporting around 80% of all patient visits are due to stress.
While I was struggling with my game, I was also struggling with marriage, finances, and of course, my career. I was sick a lot, had back pains and drank too much to self-medicate.

It’s no accident that the best rounds of golf that I played during those years came when I was on vacation. Do you remember how you feel when you are totally away from worrying about what goes on at the office or your clients?  You relax, you enjoy, you have more fun…you play better.

My single-digit handicap and best round, a 1 under par, all came after I left that job to do what I’m doing now. Did I practice more? No. It was like my body was rewarding me for finally eliminating all of that stress.

Now, if you’re not so concerned about your scores, then by all means, use golf itself as a stress-reliever.

And when you do that, notice the mechanism you used to switch over to being de-stressed. I want you to realize that it wasn’t the game that de-stressed you.

You did it.

Golf was just a sensory stimulus that you allowed for that mechanism to work for you. You can use that at work and home to better manage your stress…your body will thank you.

A de-stressed golfer plays ten times better. An enjoyable game of golf de-stresses you for better performance at work.

The way you live is the way you play and vice versa.

For those of you that don’t go to a regular job that think I’m not talking about you, think again. Stress is relative for everyone.  A homemaker may not have to write a report and create a spreadsheet under a deadline but it is just as stressful juggling the many responsibilities of caring for a family.

Your unconscious mind IS your body. It’s the collective intelligence of all the cells. You use your body for golf don’t you? It’s time to do something about your stress.

I have a saying about stress…change it, change me, or get sick.

Here’s a few things that you can do right now to reduce or eliminate some unnecessary stress in your life and your game:

1. Get organized. Use lists, your personal organizing software, your cellphone, a spreadsheet, bulletin boards. Get things out of your head and onto some form of organizing tool. Allow that tool or system to take care of the issue so that you can just leave that issue with the paper or the electronic device.  If your home is disorganized and cluttered, there are people in your hometown who are professional organizers that will come to your place and make you very happy.

2.  Learn to say “NO.” Do not take on more things when your plate is full. Ask a friend or partner to remind you that you are strengthening your “NO” muscle.  You cannot be a success in business or golf when you are more worried about what people will think of you. What is it that you want more?  Wake up to the fact that saying YES to everything is not what you really want.

3. Set or clarify your goals. Vague, undefined goals are one of the biggest causes of stress. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?  Use this everywhere in life.

I will write some more about this very soon but for now, WAKE UP! Get out of that stress trance.

I like to say that I do more “de-hypnotizing” than I do “hypnotizing”

Greens and fairways,