EDITORIAL – CHOKING HAPPENS TO THE BEST OF US

By Dr. Gregg Steinberg

At the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in July, Jason Day came to the 16th hole on Sunday, and he was tied for the lead with Dustin Johnson. But that would soon change. Jason hit a snap hook with his 3-wood, and from then on proceeded to make a triple bogey and lose the tournament to D.J.

Jason Day choked – plain and simple. But that is good news, because if the #1-ranked player in the world can choke, then it is okay for us to believe we can choke too.

Yes, everyone chokes under pressure: you, me, and the #1-ranked player in the world. That is the human experience. The secret is to understand why you choked and learn from it. You must address the following questions and apply the following exercises so that you will fail forward:

1. First, ask yourself “why” you choked. Were you nervous? Were you unfocused? Were you tired?

2. Based upon those answers, you can move forward. But let’s assume that you choked from being too nervous. Now, ask yourself, what happened when you were nervous? Did your swing get faster? Slower? Did your thinking begin to race out of control?

3. Once you know the answers to these questions, you now can be prepared for pressure. For instance, if your swing got faster because you were nervous, then prepare for this pressure by slowing down your swing. Perhaps you can slow down your pre-shot routine as well as when you take your club out of the bag. Do everything a bit slower to counteract the increase in speed that you will feel when you are under pressure.

Once you know why you choked, ask yourself “why” and then learn from that experience. When you do this process, you will fail forward to your success.

(Dr. Gregg Steinberg, the head sports psychologist for the IGPA and USGTF, is doing an in-person mental game seminar October 12 in Scottsdale, Arizona. If you are interested in attending, please email him at mentalrules24@msn.com.)

 

 

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