Long Shot Pressure
Sometimes when I have a long shot into the green I feel under tremendous pressure and I freeze over the shot causing a horrible result. What advice can you give me to fix this issue?
The first thing I will say is that pressure is not a bad thing. Feeling under tremendous pressure is not good, but feeling under pressure to perform should be welcomed, not something you should run away from. Because if you're too comfortable and relaxed when playing golf you'll do some dumb shots just because you don't really care.
So you need a balance between pressure and relaxation.
The trick is in finding the level of pressure that helps your game, rather than hinders it. There are generally two types of pressure. One is when you are playing so well that you get outside your comfort zone, and the other is where you are playing worse than you expect so you feel pressure.
Let's tackle the first situation first.
If you are playing so well that you feel under pressure, you should first be thankful and grateful for the situation you're in, it definitely beats the opposite. Next you've got to learn from the experience, and the more you get under that type of pressure the better you'll be next time.
After each pressure situation has passed, review what happened and learn and grow from the experience.
Now the second type of pressure is very hard for some people to handle, as they often seem to be in a rut of bad shots, bad performances etc. So how do you stop the "rut" when you're in it? Well here's a few things you should do...
1. You should have a type of shot you know you can hit 9 times out of 10. Whether that's a fade or a draw, it doesn't matter. But you must know what shape of shot you're going to hit. An example of this is Paul Azinger. When he was under pressure he'd hit everything with a punch type of action.
2. Never play a shot you haven't practiced.
3. Have a pre-shot routine and stick to it, no matter what has happened in the past or what may happen in the future.
4. After a bad shot, forget about it. I know that's easier said than done, so use some focusing techniques to distract your mind. For example, take some slow breathes and count your breathes both in and out. Ask some different questions that get your focus off the bad shot you've just hit. Talk to your playing partners about some event totally unrelated to golf (a controversial topic is best).
5. Choose golf clubs that will get you to the hole with something less than a perfect strike. So often golfers put themselves under needless pressure because they have to hit a perfect shot - by their own doing.
6. Play at a constant pace, whether you're playing badly or not.
Use these strategies when you play and you'll feel less and less "bad" pressure. Remember, pressure is good when it helps you to focus and concentrate, but it's not good when it either gets you too far down or up. So practice what I've suggested and you will improve.
That was an answer to a golfing question I have received from one of my students in the online Consistent Golf School. If you would like me to give you a solution to a golfing problem you're having, like Long Shot Pressure, simply go here, signup and I'll do that for free, anytime as part of being a student of the online Consistent Golf School.