A.N.S.W.E.R. to Tension and Pressure
awareness of unfavorable mental and physical changes is fundamental
to playing better golf. The best golfers habitually make tension checks
every few minutes, so they can nix any negative changes before they
snowball out of control. Make this your goal.
Ideally, you want
to reset your emotions and renew your optimal performance state before
every shot. To this end, I've developed the ANSWER Sequence--a simple,
effective means of regaining and maintaining control of your mind and
body even in the midst of high-drama, high-stress competition. Perform
ANSWER between golf shots or in any situation where you need to control
tension, anxiety, and focus. With practice, you'll be able to work through
this six-step process in a matter of a few breaths.
Step 1: Awareness
of anxiety, tension, or negative thoughts. Tuning into your "inner
world" is the first step in creating a peak performance state.
Use the following steps to counter the problem areas you diagnose.
Step 2: Normalize
breathing. Irregular breathing multiplies tension, so strive for
smooth, even breathing when the pressure is on.
Step 3: Scan
for areas of muscular tension. To reduce tension, contract the affected
muscles for a few seconds, then relax them and visualize the tension
draining out like air from a balloon.
Step 4: Wave
of relaxation. Take a slow, deep breath and feel the wave of relaxation
wash from your head to your toes.
Step 5: Erase
thoughts of the past--engage the present moment. Vividly visualize
the ideal outcome and believe in it, but then return your thoughts to
the moment and let the outcome take care of itself.
Step 6: Reset
posture and flash a smile. Trust your abilities, try "softer",
and have fun regardless of the results.
invite you to print out the ANSWER Sequence for use at home, work, and
on the links. Use this sequence regularly and I guarantee increased
performance no matter the challenges you face.
Lisa Ann Hörst
is Lancaster, PA-based teaching pro. Her new book, Golf Training:
The Secrets to Effective Practice and a Lower Score (Finally!),
is being heralded as "the most comprehensive guide to better golf"
available that will "positively transform your game."