Pressure, what is it? It’s not something you can touch or tangibly see, it’s something we create ourselves and yet it can grip us with fear.
Pressure can come from a variety of sources in golf, such as external factors, e.g. what others may think of our performance; internal pressures we put on ourselves from practicing harder and raising our expectations; or, the pressure that comes from having a career-best round and the mental floodgates starting to open.
Awareness is key in building our understanding of the pressure that is present and the habits we may fall into when we start to feel it. These habits may include walking faster, overthinking, talking more, becoming more agitated, steering our shots, and becoming more defensive with our decisions. Recognising that pressure, and learning to play with it is a crucial skill. It may not always be comfortable or enjoyable, but by facing it, we increase our capacity to cope with it better.
Acceptance is also important, as we should take the pressure with us rather than fighting against it. We cannot control the outcome, so we must learn to accept what is ahead of us. This means accepting the possibility of putting a shot out of bounds on the first tee, or shooting our best score ever, as we just don't know.
Metacognition, or the thoughts about a thought, is another important tool in dealing with pressure. It may sound complicated, but it can help us understand and accept our thoughts and feelings, which can lead to better coping mechanisms and improved performance on the course.
Adding the above processes for dealing with thoughts, when accompanied with a pre-shot routine that gives you some control over your processes, and you will be much better prepared when it comes to next dealing with pressure.