Why practice under pressure?
There’s no doubt about it, to succeed and break into new levels of scoring on the course, you will have to overcome mental barriers – such as fear and doubt and other changes which occur when we feel pressure.
Mental coaching is about learning the skills to stay calm and keep your focus on the things that that are going to allow you access your best physical skills under pressure.
If the only time you feel that pressure is when you’re playing in a tournament or competitive round, you’re not going to get many opportunities to improve these essential skills.
For this reason, I have my players go through exercises and challenges during their practice where they have to keep their score (and then send me the results of these drills). The idea is that we simulate the consequences that we feel on the course to create pressurized practice.
Most golfers practice without consequences. Hitting ball after ball on the range and come away thinking they’re a better player. But the reality is they’re not.
To really improve skills requires constraints and consequences. You need to feel nervous about missing, so you can learn how to manage that same feeling on the course.
Here are 4 drills to help you being consequences and pressure into your practice.
Driving range pressure drill 1:
- With a driver, create a 40 yard wide fairway using markers on the driving range.
- Hit 3 balls down this fairway. WIth each drive, go through your routine, and imagine being on the first tee of a big tournament. You can only move onto the next stage after hitting all 3 balls down the 40 yard fairway.
- Move the markers so you’re facing a different area of the range (perhaps with slightly different wind direction) and create a fairway that’s approximately 30 yards wide. Attempt to hit 3 balls (consecutively) down this fairway. You can only move onto the next stage after hitting all 3 balls down the 30 yard fairway.
- Do the same with a 20 yard fairway. If you can hit all 9 balls down the 3 fairways, you are a very good driver of the golf ball!
6 shot pressure drill for the range #2 (advanced level)
- Hit an imaginary green around the 150 yard flag with a straight shot
- Hit a fade down a 40 yard wide fairway with the driver
- Hit a low draw to an imaginary green around the 195 yard flag
- Hit a high fade to the 175 green
- Hit a straight shot to the 100 yard green
- Hit a 3 wood down a 30 yard wide fairway
Short game trajectory test
This is a variation of a drill from Cory Lundberg and Matt Wilson’s “Better Faster” Book. This is a test of the 2 most important elements of the short game, trajectory and distance control.
- Select 3 locations around the green (within 20 yards of the hole), 1 with a tight lie, one normal and one rough lie. One should be on an upslope, one flat and one on a downslope.
- Hit 2 shots from each location with different trajectories and try to get them within 6 ft of the hole
- From the first location, identify your landing spot on the green and place a tee where it will be. Once you a shot within 3ft of this landing spot and within 6ft of the hole, move onto the next shot.
- Identify your next landing spot for the next trajectory. When you get it within 3ft of your landing spot and 6ft of the hole, move onto the next location.
- Repeat from the different lie. The challenge is complete when you’ve successfully hit all 6 shots within 6ft of the hole and within 3ft of your landing spot.
7 ball Putting Pressure Drill
This is a drill designed to reward good distance control. You’re going to hit 7 putts, from 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 feet.
The main goal is to make the putts (worth 3 points), but the secondary goal (if you miss) is to have the ball landing within a few feet, the other side of the hole (worth 1 point). Put a chalk line on the green 3 ft behind the hole. If you’re short, you take 1 point away from your score. An elite level player would expect to score 10 or more on this drill.
I’m confident these drills will make your practice more challenging and give you a strong sense of accomplishment if you can complete them! You’ll also develop your mental skills to perform better under pressure.
I’ve got plenty of these drills in my practice drills eBook which is available as part of my Ultimate Mental Game Training System.