Discover Your Peak Emotional State

Copyright © 1999 - 2035 Craig Townsend

You may not have consciously noticed, but you are in a particular mood every time you play your best golf.

Surprisingly, this particular mood will usually bring you consistently good results, and it is worth finding out what it is - and then re-creating this mood as often as possible whenever you play a round of competition.

Moods (or emotional states) can play a major role when playing an important competition - especially when they can fluctuate so much during one round! Emotions are somewhat less important in practice - as it's difficult to get as emotionally charged in practice as you might in a competition.

Every golfer (and general sportsperson, for that matter) possesses their own 'winning mood' which will bring them with their own best possible performance. When you play at your peak level, we call this mental state 'the zone' - or your peak level of performance, as mentioned in some of my earlier tips.
Of course, your mood can swing dramatically several times during a round (which is generally something we wish to avoid!), and so it is your dominant mood throughout the round which is of most importance to us. Unfortunately there are hundreds of different moods and emotional states, however I have narrowed them down to 4 main ones which I consider to have a major effect upon golf. They are:

hyped / excited
calm and focused
nervousness / tightness
anger (which sometimes brings surprising results, but generally works better for athletics and boxers!).

By knowing your own peak emotional state, you can work at getting into that mood each time before you play (eg. using music in the car on the way to the course, etc) and then work at maintaining that winning mood throughout the 18 holes.

There are several ways to do this - one is simply to consciously observe your moods from now on, and the effects they have upon your standard. A more scientific way is is to create a Mood Chart, like the one below. This allows you to map out what your optimum emotional state is, over the course of 15-20+ competition rounds.

All you do is - after a competition round - simply write down how you felt emotionally throughout the majority of your round, and then 'grade' the round on a scale of 1 to 10, as to how good it was. So (for example only) after 6 competition matches, you might finish with a list which look like this:

Mood Chart
Date Dominant Emotion During Round Performance Level Best Worst
4th March Nervous 6 - -
5th March Calm/Relaxed 9 * -
11th March Angry 5 - *
12th March Hyped/Excited 7 - -
18th March Calm/Relaxed 8.5 * -
19th March Hyped/Excited 8 - -

As the above example shows, this golfer's two best performances were when they were calm and relaxed, and their worst result came on the day that they were angry about something. Yet other golfers might find that this is the exact opposite for them - everyone is different. This is valuable information worth knowing before you go out to play - the more you can truly know about, and understand, your own mind and body the better.

So, if the chart above shows that this golfer is best when relaxed during a round, they might use relaxing music in the car on the way to the course, or a mental relaxation exercise before they leave home, to help them get into their peak emotional state. Music is also useful for those who are better when hyped-up to play.
Knowing your own worst emotional state can also be valuable knowledge - for instance (for the golfer above), it would tell them that anger was the best emotion to avoid when playing a round!
Surprisingly, there are a few players who do bring out their best when they become angry - though this is definitely the exception rather than the rule. These types of golfers could actually practice looking for reasons to get angry (!), such as pretending that everyone thinks that they are the worst golfer on the course, etc.
Nervousness, more often than not, is an emotion which may be present at the beginning of the round, but it often evaporates as the player plays a few holes - though of course many golfers do experience it the entire round. This is an emotion often avoided by many, who find it can have a negative affect upon their golf - though a little nervousness at the beginning is often a good sign you are mentally ready to go. This is not usually an emotion which needs to be cultivated, however.

Let me point out once again that every single golfer is different - you have to find out your own peak emotional state, and only you can do it. By recording this information for about 15-20 competition rounds, it will reveal your personal moods which give you your best (and worst) performances.

Once you know this, you will have a greater understanding of your own personality, mind and body, and how to extract the most from them.

So try 'mapping' your moods, and finding out which ones bring you the best performances. I occasionally make similar charts for some golfers which also map out their sleeping patterns, so they finish with data which tells them how much sleep and what emotional states will bring them their best golf.

Try it, and see if you discover some information about yourself you didn't know. Knowledge about yourself is the power you take with you every time you walk onto the course.


"The Mind controls the body, and the Mind is Unlimited"

The best of success, Craig Townsend


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