Learning From Your Misteak Patterns Part 2
I have developed a self-assessment of golfing mistakes. No, it is not just for masochists! Here are the most common patterns of mental and playing mistakes. Which fit for you? Please take three minutes and answer the following questions. Write down a number after each question of how many times per round you typically commit this type of error. Now, they may not occur in every single round, but they are definite patterns. Go ahead…you very well may be surprised at what you discover.
Expect things to be perfect or smooth? _____
Make dumb or poorly thought-out decisions? _____
Cut short or eliminate preshot and postshot routines? _____
Fall prey to temptations and greed? _____
Allow your concentration to slip and/or become distracted? _____
Try too hard? _____
Lose your patience? _____
Not feel really ready to hit a shot? _____
Attempt “wishes and hopes” shots? ____
Allow your emotions (both positive and negative) to bubble up? _____
Not feel totally committed to a shot? _____
Make errors due to looseness (that is; quick, mindless, and no-brainer mistakes)? _____
Make errors due to tightness (that is; too tense and/or the mind too jumbled up)? _____
Allow subtle fears to influence? _____
Have too aggressive of a mindset? _____
Have too timid and cautious of a mindset? _____
Attempt swings that are too fast or too hard? _____
Try to force or make things happen? _____
Make wrong club selections? _____
Make wrong shot selections? _____
Try things that are too complicated? _____
Attempt shots that are not targeted precisely enough? _____
Attempt shots that are too cute or have too fine a margin for error? _____
Attempt shots which haven’t been practiced nor refined? _____
Stay stuck in the low ebb of a couple of bad holes? _____
Space out and go off on mental “walkabouts?” _____
Think outcome numbers and results (instead of here-and-now qualities and processes)? _____
Allow self-imposed pressures and stresses to choke you? _____
Get down on yourself, become negative, and/or give up? _____
Stop enjoying the process of playing the game? _____
Okay, now please add up the grand total of how many typical mistakes you make. You will probably be surprised–or even shocked–at how many mistake patterns you have. In finalizing this article, I had seven women on a university golf team with whom I have been working answer the above questions. Their results may surprise you. Their totals ranged from a low of 26 to three of them admitting to well over 200! And these are all fine elite golfers.
As you become more aware of your mistake patterns you will realize that one pattern opens up others. This is why the above number can grow so high.
You may commit multiple mistakes on the same shot. I call these “situational mistake patterns.” For example, when I have lost my patience, I may rush my preshot routine so I do not acquire a specific target nor am really ready to hit the shot. I then allow my frustrations to take hold and try to force a cute shot. I will typically swing too hard, become even more angry, and “mail in” the rest of the round. Whew…no wonder I go nuts with this game!
Upon reflection of these questions you might be left with the feeling of how you can possibly execute any good shots at all! Your specific answers to these questions can be quite revealing. You see, it has been my experience that if you can accurately define the problem, you are halfway there to resolving it.
Here is how to make sense from your responses. In each of the above 30 mistake patterns if you admitted to more than three per round, you have indirectly identified a factor you need to address. Look back at your answers and give a priority to the three most frequently reported categories.
Then with each of these, detail a specific plan of how to overcome them. So for example, if I discovered I committed too many errors due to looseness, I would plan to concentrate more on layup shots and better feel my rehearsal swings. Or if I admitted that I tended to swing too hard, I would better tune into key rhythm cues and keep using my centering techniques. Or if I became aware I had little fears inhibiting me, I would ask myself “What’s the absolute worst thing that could happen?” and then throw myself into the shot. Awareness of mistake patterns is good, but implementing a game plan to overcome them is better.
Resolving, or just minimizing, your unique mistake patterns can be quite liberating. In order to allow good efforts emerge and flow, you first have to eliminate the mistake “dams and bottlenecks.” Once controlled, you can then rechannel these patterns into more fluid performances.
Even though we plan to consistently hit fairways and greens, we are not robots. We have variations and we make mistakes. However, mistakes can actually be seen as methods to spice up the game. One of my mantras I continually verbalize to my golfers is that, “there are many ways to score.” Recovering from mistakes–tactically, emotionally, mentally, and shotmaking–actually provide opportunities to expand your game. You see, making a mistake may not be the sin. Repeating it and not quickly recovering from it ARE the sins. When you have made a playing mistake, your first response is to remain calm. That shot is gone. There is nothing you can do about it. Then positively and purposefully devise a solution to your situation. Seen in these lights, recoveries can be one of the most satisfying elements of playing golf. Recovering is as much as an mental process as it is a mechanical one. Forgive yourself, accept your situation, and concentrate on creating the appropriate response.
Reflect now on some of your best performances. I would bet that somewhere in these rounds you recovered wonderfully from mistakes. These recoveries not only salvaged the round, they were springboards to heightened efforts. Recovery is redemption. And this has its own rewards.
So here is the bottom line. 1. Accept you will make mistakes. When you make one, be like Walter Hagen who passively chalked it up to one of his allotted ones. And then play on.
2. The best way to minimize errors is to miss shots in the right places. Granted, always be positive and committed in decision making, but also factor in that if you miss the shot, where that might be.
3. When in a tough situation, learn to “take your medicine.” Pitch back to the fairway or chip beyond the tucked pin to the fat part of the green. In these ways you can cut your losses. The golf gods frequently reward such discipline…sometimes during the same hole.
4. Recovering is as much of a matter of attitude as it is shotmaking. After a mistake be positive and even eager with the prospects of the next shot.
5. Listen and honor your intuitions. A big part of minimizing mistake patterns is awareness. Resist your greedy temptations. Even if do no know why, immediately do the opposite of what is tempted.
Keep on learning about your playing patterns. Good play is smart play, not only with pure shots, but also with poor shots. Accept that mistakes are an integral part of The Game. These are not only tests of your game, they are also tests of your character.
“Kubi has done so much for me and my team that words are hard to use to express it. I met Kubi last year. He did a group session for our women’s and men’s teams together. He talked to them about pressures, expectations, successes and how they are created, and seemed to roll everything into life. That session left my team motivated and energized for their first event. We traveled to Arizona’s tournament with no practice as we were under feet of snow last February and still finished better than anyone thought we would.
Kubi coaching the team and myself on our mental thoughts and attitudes has helped me to learn more than I could have ever dreamed of. He knows so much and relates so well with all of us that I couldn’t do this job without him.
Judy Dansie, University of Nevada Reno Women’s Golf Coach
Dr. Tom Kubistant has been called “The Master of the Intrinsic.” He maintains the entire bibliography on the mental game of golf…and has read it all! Nobody is more experienced than Tom. He continues to work with professional and average golfers every day.
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Author of “Performing Your Best, Links Golf, Mind Pump: The Psychology of Body Building, business and sales training audios, over 280 articles for magazines and now………Mind Links – The Psychology of Golf.