Working through performance anxiety. It all started in the 4th grade at the spelling bee. It was round 1, they gave me an easy word I was capable of spelling. The word was “Growl”.
I step up to the microphone to dominate this easy word and move onto the next round. But I don’t. My nerves and performance anxiety get the best of me. This is what comes out “G, O…” and a loud sigh. I knew as soon as I said the letter “o” that I had messed up. Also, that my spelling bee dreams were over.
What happened? Why did I mess up such as easy word? I knew I could spell growl. It kept playing over and over in my head as I sat in the audience to watch the remainder of the spelling bee. This moment was the beginning of me acknowledging my performance anxiety. I still struggle with anxiety related to competition as an adult and know many competitors do as well.
It seems that for the last year when I compete in disc golf tournaments I am consistently performing under my skill level. I know I still have a lot to learn, as this sport always provides learning opportunities. Increased practice and playing the courses more before the tournament would help. However, my blunders on the course seem to be very much related to my mental game. It all seems to boil down to performance anxiety.
The thing is I don’t get angry. I try to brush off the bad shots. Take each shot as it is. For some reason my body doesn’t want to relax during a tournament.
I have found when I play in my Thursday night Disc On! Ladies League (DOLLs) that I generally more often than not, play very well. My drives set me up for at least 1-2 birdies per round. It is not uncommon for me to make a couple 30’+ putts. I rarely miss a 10′ or less putt. However, these moves are not the case during a tournament. I find I easily get into a routine of missing many 10′ or less putts during these rounds, to make my 3’s turn to 4’s and my 4′ turn to 5’s. The difference being at DOLLs leagues, there is a lot of giggling. We keep score we aren’t playing to compete against each other–it is more for the social and fun aspects of it. I suppose I am not overthinking these league rounds and performance anxiety does not become a factor.
As I have been noticing my inconsistent tournament performance vs. my casual rounds, I have been trying to pin point how I can translate this better play into tournament performance. In addition to more practice and familiarity with the courses. The main thing I need to do is what Aaron Rodgers, the best quarterback in the NFL said when fans were worried about the Greenbay Packers 2014 season, he had 5 letters “R-E-L-A-X!” The fans relaxed and the team went on to have a 12 and 4 season and win the NFC North division.
I know when I make a great putt or throw a good drive my body mainly my upper shoulders and neck are relaxed. I just need to work on relaxing and staying focused. All while not taking the game too seriously and just remember that my body knows what to do.