A mo­ment of anx­i­ety

The Signal - - GOLF - By Hans Ker­st­ing Golf Pro­fes­sional

Have you ever no­ticed how calm pro­fes­sional ath­letes ap­pear when you are watch­ing them on tele­vi­sion?

I no­tice it all the time, and it fas­ci­nates me.

In fact, I am more im­pressed at an ath­lete’s abil­ity to ap­pear calm in a high stress mo­ment than I am in the per­for­mance it­self.

We all ex­pe­ri­ence mo­ments of anx­i­ety in our daily lives. By def­i­ni­tion, anx­i­ety means “a feel­ing of worry, ner­vous­ness or un­ease, typ­i­cally about an im­mi­nent event or some­thing with an un­cer­tain out­come.”

As golfers, we can all re­late to this, but re­lat­ing to some­thing is one thing, while learn­ing to over­come it is en­tirely dif­fer­ent.

Pro­fes­sional ath­letes will of­ten ex­plain how the game “slows down” in front of them when they are at their peak per­for­mance level. Quar­ter­backs see the field bet­ter; point guards an­tic­i­pate the move­ment of their team­mates and a bat­ter can de­tect the ro­ta­tion of the base­ball com­ing to­wards the plate.

I have had the op­por­tu­nity to work with a few ath­letes who reached the pin­na­cle of their re­spec­tive sports.

One stu­dent of mine was a start­ing pitcher on a World Se­ries win­ning team, while an­other was the start­ing run­ning back and MVP of a Su­per Bowl win­ning team.

In both in­stances, these play­ers have found the abil­ity to stay calm in the most pres­sure-packed mo­ments of their lives.

How­ever, they are ner­vous wrecks when it comes to hit­ting a golf ball. The idea of this just cracks me up.

How can a pitcher can stand on a mound and throw a strike with mil­lions of eyes ea­gerly watch­ing in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the mo­ment?

How can a run­ning back slow him­self down enough to rec­og­nize an open­ing in the de­fense and hold on to the foot­ball in the most watched sport­ing event in the uni­verse?

In both cases, these ath­letes ex­plained to me that they had pre­pared their en­tire lives for those mo­ments, and they felt calm at the time.

Golf is an in­cred­i­ble game that of­fers each of us an op­por­tu­nity to learn how to man­age the anx­i­ety that creeps into us while we are on the golf course. Whether it’s a pro­fes­sional ath­lete, or a pro­fes­sional in a dif­fer­ent line of work, the most suc­cess­ful have learned how to calm their “un­ease about an un­cer­tain out­come.”

When faced with a mo­ment of anx­i­ety, I sim­ply re­mem­ber the ad­vice we have all been given at some point in our lives — just breathe and re­mem­ber that ev­ery­thing is go­ing to be OK.

Metro Cre­ative im­age

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