When discussing mind-set, goal focus, and perspective with professional players who visit my office, one important coinciding topic always comes up, expectations.
90% of the time I find players to have expectations of themselves and their game which are destroying mental toughness and enjoyment for the game.
For example, rookie players in particular often express a change toward greater expectations once turning professional in two key areas:
1) Ball striking, and
At first glance, you might think “what’s wrong with that, isn’t that expected of a professional player?”
I am certainly not saying you can’t have high expectations, but a sole focus on these two outcomes is not ideal.
The destructive pattern from EXPECTATIONS to SWING MEDDLING:
Developing a sole focus on expectations around ball striking and scoring, place rigid demands on your performance. You either achieve your expectations or you don’t.
What I often see as a consequence of failing to meet these expectations is immediate attention given to the technical area of your game:
Hitting the range to perfect your swing mechanisms, and questioning your talent, rather than objectively looking at the finer process of your game.
Players tell me they feel lost in the same process from round to round, trying to find their swing, spending hours working on their game but seeing little changes in the result, and becoming more tentative and less confident come tournament time.
Create professional habits before professional outcomes to promote mental toughness:
Most elite players have great expectations on striking the ball “professionally,” and scoring “professionally,” but fail to establish high standards on the finer details of their process of their performance such as:
This is the difference between having no standards and establishing higher standards in your game process.
Without high standards on the key processes in your game, high expectations on the outcomes of ball striking and scoring is completely misplaced.
I utilize a tool that allows players to develop quantitative statistics around the consistency of their routines, and this brings further objectivity to the analysis of your game.
Once you begin to test these processes you will place a stronger emphasis on noticing discrepancies in these areas as the cause of poor shots and poor scoring, over and above the mechanics of your swing on a given day.
This form of analysis can also elevate confidence, as you are focusing on things within your control, regardless of how “imperfect” your swing feels from one day to the next.
Bottom line, you don't need to lower your expectations for your game, but you have to raise the standards you set for your performance process.
Only then will you find a way to effectively assess your game approach, and maintain confidence when working toward lofty goals.
Dr Jay-Lee Nair
Book an appointment with Dr Jay-lee Nair today and raise the standard of your performance process.