8 “Must Dos” To Prepare For A Big Tournament

If you’ve played at any level of competitive golf, you’ve experienced that feeling of nervousness getting stronger as a big tournament approaches. You’ve worked hard to get your game ready and you want to do well. Over the years, I’ve worked with plenty of tournament golfers and we pay special attention to the days that lead up to a big round or tournament. Your pre round warm up should really start a few days before. Here are the top 8 things I recommend you focus on:

Visualize success

Your inner vision is really important before any round of golf. Let’s reinforce the image of success on the course and see yourself as a winner! This is good for your self-belief and getting your mind ready. When you visualize, you start influencing your subconscious mind, which is actually responsible for most of the actions you make. Your subconscious mind is going to play a big role in how successful you are, so you have to influence it in the right way – by consciously feeding it the images you want to happen in reality.

In the few days prior to your round, spend a 5-10 minutes per day (in a quiet relaxed environment) closing your eyes and visualizing yourself hitting great shots and birdie-ing every hole.

Stop practicing technique – move towards trust mode

In the few days leading up to your big round, you’ll want to move from practice to trust mode. If you’ve been working hard on the technical aspects of your game, it’s time to put that aside and simply start trusting what you have. We don’t want you taking a technical mind-set into the tournament. Your swing is good enough!


Keeping calm and relaxing is more important than worrying and becoming overly concerned about the outcome of the tournament. If you notice your mind drifting into the future about the tournament (unless you’re actively spending time visualizing a successful round), make sure you bring yourself back to the present. You can do this by focusing on your breathing, which is also a good relaxation technique. Distract yourself with other activities – stay busy and take your mind off the tournament.

Be prepared

Get a practice round in and know your strategy (and know what might possibly cause that strategy to change). Be sure to get prepared the evening before – your equipment and clothing etc. You don’t want to feel stressed by having to get organized the morning of the tournament.

Eat and drink right

If you don’t already have a healthy diet, in the few days before a big round, you’ll need to make sure you do. What you eat and drink affects your mood and your mental energy, so you want to make sure that what you’re putting in your body isn’t going to make you feel sluggish or down. Eliminate fast food and lower sugar and fat. Instead, eat lean and healthy and hydrate plenty!

Set the right goals for your round

We don’t want additional pressure from telling ourselves the importance of shooting a good score. The morning of the tournament, remind yourself of your “process goals” – those controllable goals (your score is not 100% within your control) and get your mental game scorecard ready.

Have fun

In the lead up to a tournament (and during) notice your body language. When we’re nervous or apprehensive about something it’s easy to adopt a weaker posture and look worried. Instead, I’d like to deliberately walk with a power posture and smile!

Your pre round warm up

Your routine is very important. Just as you’ll want to follow the same routine during every shot, for the same reason, sticking to the same pre round warm up routine before a tournament will help you feel more comfortable (your rituals and warm-up).

Need help with a pre round warm up routine? To get you feeling as confident as possible on the morning of your big round, I’ve put together a series of audios (30 mins in total) which serves as the perfect “Pre-round Confidence Booster”.

pre round warm up

Photo courtesy of Marcus Spiske

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David MacKenzie

is a mental golf coach and lives in Washington DC. He is the founder of Golf State of Mind, a teaching program designed to help golfers condition their minds to overcome fear and play with confidence.

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