MONDAY MIND FACTOR MISSIVE!!
THE MAN WITH NO EXPECTATIONS……..
DON’T PLAY THE EXPECTATION GAME
Expectations are merely attempts to predict the unpredictable. For the good of your game – and your confidence – leave them alone!
Of all the zillions of stats coming out of the PGA Tour these days, one of the more interesting is that 7ft 10in represents the 50% make distance. In other words, a Tour pro is just as likely to miss a putt from this distance as hole it.
Yet, in my experience and I guess in yours, if most club golfers miss a putt of this distance, they are disappointed. They feel they might well have holed it. This suggests our expectation levels are well above where they should be.
Expectation is something all golfers run into. If we play well one day, we expect to play well the next; if we play badly, we expect to struggle.
When you break it down, an expectation is a forecast of something that’s going to happen, and it’s no surprise to see it playing an increasingly influential role in a golfer’s psyche. After all, forecasting is something we are all being conditioned to do, be it football scores, house prices, interest rates or simply the weather.
Yet in golf, expectation is a myth – and a damaging one at that. If we are honest with ourselves, we know this to be true. How many times have you stepped on to the first tee with no form or confidence, only to surprise yourself with some solid play? And more taxingly, we have all gone to the course with high expectations after a run of good form, only to stink the place out.
And do not think it’s only the amateur that’s prone to falling into the expectation trap. Even with their elevated levels of consistency, Tour pros are no different. Darren Clarke’s 60 at the K Club in 2006 was preceded by a quite horrific practice session, involving a series of shanked iron shots.
Fred Shoemaker, author of the seminal work Instinctive Golf, once said: “Golf’s biggest myth is that the past equals the future.” We might like to think it does, but it does not. So when you place an expectation on yourself, you are in effect predicting the unpredictable.
There is no type of expectation that is healthy for your game. Expect to play poorly and you’ll go into the round with no determination or energy. Expect to play well and you’ll have no resilience to turn things around if things don’t go as well as planned. Almost like a football team going in against perceived weaker opposition who play well, it’s very hard to step it up; you’re not ready to tough it out.
So from now on, make it your policy to go into a round of golf with no expectations, positive or negative. Instead, put this three-stage strategy into action :
1. Adopt ‘Expect nothing, deal with everything’ as your new motto. This encourages a mindset or resilience and flexibility, helping you get the most out of a bad day or go with the flow if you do hit form. It will also help you ward off that crushing disappointment if it’s not happening for you. That old chestnut ‘the man with no expectations will never be disappointed’ still rings true.
2. Reaffirm your commitment to the things you can control – pre and post-shot processes, focus, routine – to give yourself your best possible chance on the day.
3 Believe in your capability. It’s easy to confuse high expectation with confidence, or being positive. But real confidence comes from a true grasp of your capability, the skills you have acquired through coaching, practice and experience. You can’t kid this; as your capability rises, so will your confidence. High expectation, in contrast, simply delivers the illusion of confidence. And if your play doesn’t match it, your confidence can take a damaging hit.
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Hope you find this Monday’s Mind Factor Missive useful!