The Golf Performance Center Ridgefield, CT

Fear of Failure

Recently I have had several conversations with adult players, junior players and their parents about the state of their games and development as a whole.  I understand that many of us are not where we would like to be in our development as a golfer, and it made me think, why not? Why do we think we are not going to be good. Why do we feel that we will not obtain our goal?  As I sat down to write, I couldn’t help but think also of recent stories I have read or listened to about how great business leaders become who they are in their fields or how their companies became great companies.  The #1 thing I found was that they did not fear failing!  They knew going into their businesses that they were going to fail a lot, enough to learn and succeed!  But they also were engaged and obsessed with learning and being better, not fixed!

Great leaders and great companies do not look at short term failures as failure.  Instead, they look at what it is they have learned from the efforts they have put towards their ultimate goals of succeeding in the longer term.  I understand you as a junior golfer looking at how quickly you can become good enough to play in college or being a PGA or LPGA Tour player.  As a parent you may be thinking,  how can golf make a difference in the college process and help separate your child from other college applicants or potentially garnishing a scholarship.  Again, I understand that it seems like shooting an 85/89 today is a failure or you may think a score like that isn’t preparing  your child to play college golf, but the reality is every time you play regardless of the result, it is moving you closer to being better.  Of course you will need to show that you can have enough skill to score in the low to mid to low 70’s, but to do so there must be a lot of focused effort to get to that point.  When playing most any other sport except golf, we look at failing as normal and that we are moving closer and closer to success.  If you take batting practice or tennis practice with a coach or go play in a game, it is reasonable to think that only 30% of the time you will be successful at hitting the baseball in play or getting a hit.  Which means failing better than 70% time! .300 hitters are in the hall of fame!  

If your goal is to play your best golf in college or beyond, try this way of thinking. Pretend you are in beta testing mode, allowing mistakes, continuing to make the corrections, and look for more feedback.  Once you understand that we are always evolving, we are always improving, and that we can never be fixed, we learn we can improve daily. The pressure of being perfect may lessen the stress and eventually make it possible to unstrap yourselves from fear.  It may give you a sense of renewed enthusiasm for golf, allowing you to accomplish greater things because you will enjoy the process of being better without the stress of being perfect.  

Start to work on the things that will give you the best chance of success, Just like the best leaders of great companies stay in beta testing phases for as long as they can before releasing a product.  In golf, It is understood there is going to be constant testing with tournaments. Don’t worry about making mistakes in your events, get as much feedback on your skills as possible, remain in the beta mindset, gain as much feedback and work hard to improve your skills.   As a junior golfer you are in constant physical and mental development and you will struggle with performance anxieties.  As Thomas Edison said, “I did not fail, I merely figured out 10,000 ways not to make it work but when it does it will be amazing”!

Enjoy Your Journey!