ANGER AND THE JUNIOR GOLFER
Whenever I would give a talk to groups about the mental game of golf and peak performance, I would ask them, “What is the biggest problem that golfers have on the golf course?” Some say it’s their swing. Others it’s their inability to focus. Others say it’s their course management and indecision about the shot.
I tell them that even though these are important, for the golfer to play at their peak level, the biggest obstacle to peak performance is that they too often get upset with themselves, get down on themselves, get angry with themselves or berate themselves if things do not go as they expect them to go. You know, the bad shots!!!
Unfortunately, for the junior golfer, many of their role models (parents, siblings, coaches, and, that’s right even other amateur and professional golfers) all do it when things don’t go their way. Even the #1 golfer in the world has a problem with anger.
When I work with junior golfers, more often than not, this is an issue that most of them struggle a great deal with on the golf course. In my previous article about anger on the golf course, I mentioned that anger, like all of our emotions, has a purpose and gives us feedback about what is going on inside. Anger has to do with the issue of control and power. You’re not able to control something (i.e. your golfing outcomes) so you get angry. Or, someone or something is disturbing or trying to control you (i.e. the wind, a bad bounce, the other player’s behavior, etc) so you get angry because you don’t like it. What’s happening on the golf course is out of your control.
Anger also gives the golfer a false sense of empowerment. However, if not dealt with properly and redirected, anger will destroy their golf game and probably the golfer’s self esteem as well. It will introduce tension, cause the golfer to make mistakes and give their opponent the advantage.
In my experience working with the junior golfer, when anger consistently shows up on the golf course, there is usually an area of their life where insecurity is a major problem. It may be about not believing in themselves, thinking they are not good enough or capable of playing good, consistent golf to their capability. There may be a problem at home with a parent or a communication problem with the coach, etc. Whatever this issue might be, it will most likely interfere with their improvement and enjoyment of the experience. It will also tend to creep into and influence other areas of their life (school, home, relationships, discipline, etc).
Identifying the root cause of a junior golfer’s consistent anger problem on the golf course and then correcting it is the first step. Teaching the junior golfer about their emotions and building in essential coping strategies will go a long way to giving them a rock solid foundation that will serve them well later in life. It will also contribute to help them develop a greater sense of self and enhance their enjoyment of golf throughout their entire life. It’s also about giving the junior golfer a healthier perspective of what the game of golf can teach them about themselves.
(Tim Loebs, MA, LPC is an Author and Sports Counselor in Surfside Beach specializing in helping junior golfers improve the mental part of their game. He can be reached at 843-650-8940 or at www.themindmagician.com)
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