The CSGA Links Volume 6 Issue 4 August 2018 - Page 41

“Of all the hazards in golf, fear is the worst.” —Sam Snead reduction in our visual field, and our breathing is restricted. Sound familiar? The next time you find yourself afraid on the golf course, whether it be first tee jit- ters, a pressure putt or playing in front of an audience, consider the following suggestions to hack your fear response and get back on track to playing your best: Brain Hack No. 1. Breathe. BREATHE! What yogis and Buddhists have known for thousands of years, we can now validate with science. Slow, smooth, and rhythmic breath- ing will counter the negative effects of the fear response. When you experience fear, take a moment and breathe slowly, at an interval of a 5 second inhale and a 5 second exhale. This type of breathing, also called coherent breathing, would be a great addition to your pre-shot routine as well. Brain Hack No. 2. Reframe it: Instead of accepting your irrational fear as truth, question it, and come up with an alternate and more positive explanation. For example, my irrational thoughts on the CSGA qualifier were, “I’m a failure,” “People are going to think I’m a joke.” A more rational, accurate, and positive reframing of those thoughts would be, “It makes sense that I’m afraid. This is new for me. I’m not a bad player and I deserve to be here. People are going to think what they think and I can’t control that. What I can control is my mind. I will work hard and compete on every shot and whatever happens, happens.” This is called “cognitive reframing” and it can not only reduce anxiety but provide genuine relief as well. Brain Hack No. 3. Vent. Expressing any emotion is a great way to release yourself from it’s grasp—especially true of fear. Tell a friend or your caddie, or even write it down in a notebook or your yardage book, the way you might make notes on a hole and how you played it. Be specific. Is it physical tension? Dark thoughts? Both? The more you under- stand how your fear manifests itself, the easier it will be to deal with. Brain Hack No. 4. Anticipate and plan ahead: If you are someone who is prone to experiencing fear on the golf course, remind yourself before a round that this may happen and plan on how you’ll counteract it. Remind yourself also that it’s a sign of your commit- ment to your game. Great players often talk about anxiety as “excitement.” They embrace it. I did my best to do just that at the qualifier. I shot 76 and made the cut by 2. CSGA Links // August 2018 41