As the golf clock ticks we all get trapped in repeating habits, and a golfer’s “comfort zone” is most often below where he or she is capable of playing.
What people may not know about these repeating habits is that they often don’t recognize them, and acknowledging them is key because they shape what they can and can’t do. People become comfortable with these behaviors, and they end up running the show.
Most people are familiar with the idea of comfort zone: the space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk. It’s a comfortable place where people aren’t threatened and everything always stays the same, and that offers mental security.
The Comfort Zone Explained
There’s a lot of science that highlights why it’s so challenging to break out of your comfort zone, and why it’s good for you when you do it. With a little understanding and a few adjustments, you can break away from your comfort zone on the course…and this will lead to rewarding improvement in your game.
In 1908, psychologists Robert Yerkes and John Dodson showed that a state of comfort created a steady level of performance. They also highlighted that if you want to increase your performance, a state of relative anxiety is needed – a place where stress levels are slightly higher than normal. This is called Optimal Anxiety and it’s beyond your comfort zone. Further, they also showed that too much anxiety can produce too much stress, leading to performance drop-offs. So finding the right balance for you in your game is key.
You are not alone in the quest to expand your comfort zone. The leading professional golfers and other athletes I work with daily are constantly working to shift their comfort zone and find the place leading to higher performance. If you want to become a better player and see improvement, finding your own approach to shift your comfort zone is an important exercise for you too.
The Golf Treadmill
Let me give you an example of my first introduction to the comfort zone.
When I was growing up at the golf club, I did the scoring each year at the club championship. I stood at the scoreboard and marked scores of the membership. Players were categorized in four divisions (A, B, C and D) based on handicap index. I saw the same faces each year, and year after year the same players turned in basically the same scores.
I always wondered how it was possible that a golfer could play (and practice) the game for 10, 20 or 30 years and stay in the same division every year without any real shift in improvement. I saw little shift between divisions from year-to-year.
The answer is these players, over time, became comfortable with where they were and never addressed how they might shift their comfort zone and move to another level of play.
The longer you stay in the same comfort zone, the more it shrinks and the harder it is to expand it. And the more you continue to do the same things, make the same mistakes and engrain the same habits, the more your comfort zone shrinks – and you become THAT player – your identity.
What Causes You to Be in the Comfort Zone?
You’ve seen it many times. You or your playing partners start playing great or “out of your mind” and then whammo – a string of poor play occurs. This often happens when a player has some good play early and then subconsciously slips back to “where he or she should be.”
In your golf game, your comfort zone is determined by the range of scores you typically shoot – let’s say between 85 and 90. Whenever you play, you’d like to shoot a lower score, but you are expecting a result in your “usual” range. Inevitably, you’ll have rounds where you flirt with scores outside your zone; maybe you reach the turn at 3-over par, recognizing that a similar back nine will give you a score well under your normal zone.
Then what happens?
You start thinking about what could be. You start playing defensively, trying to “protect” your great round. Next thing you know, you’ve adjusted everything back to your comfort zone and the career round fades away.
I’m sure you’ve also seen the reverse happen. You are playing terrible and then a sudden surge of good play at the end of the round mysteriously puts you back in your comfort zone.
What are Your Roadblocks to Growth as a Player?
We all have roadblocks to growth. In spite of your efforts to grow and get better, certain walls can interfere with your progress. Here are a few that may be familiar to you:
Fear of growth (not feeling safe to grow): A major barrier is what is called the “I’m stuck” syndrome. “I’ve always played that way, so how could I possibly change?” You feel stuck at times, and when you do, you don’t feel great about yourself… or your game.
A negative view of yourself as a golfer: You see and know yourself as a “D” player or someone who struggles to shoot good scores, so that’s where you stay as a golfer.
Skepticism: You believe any steps you take to improve won’t work or will be a waste of time. “I tried that and it didn’t work.”
Uncertainty regarding how to begin or what direction to take: You don’t know how to get better, how to evaluate your game or what steps to take to do it.
Challenging yourself emotionally: Force yourself to work on your weaknesses. It’s not an easy thing to do, and not as fun as the feeling of working on your strengths and seeing a good result.
It’s too late for me to change, I’m too old or I don’t have enough time: You use excuses that it’s not the right time to improve your game. This is a state of procrastination.
The most important factor for you to break out of your comfort zone is asking yourself why you are doing it. It can’t be for contrived or superficial reasons. You must be genuinely interested in improvement, and know what benefits you want to get out of it.
Expanding the perimeter of your comfort zone by slowly and intelligently pushing your barriers will build confidence. The process should be methodical and progressive. Don’t run out and try to change your entire game overnight. Evaluate what needs to be done – physically, mentally and emotionally to move up a level – and create the steps to get there. It will be a gradual process and almost guaranteed won’t be a straight line.
Some Ideas to Start Expanding Your Comfort Zone
Face Your Fears: Stepping out of your comfort zone will probably cause some fear, and the dreaded “what ifs” are the downfall of many players.
- What if I fail?
- What if I really can’t do this?
- What if I’m not good enough?
Stay in the moment and do things slowly and purposefully. A committed plan with reasonable milestones will give you the confidence to get to a new place.
Change Your Routine: You can begin growing your comfort zone through small changes in your approach to the game, adding 45 minutes each week in short game practice, taking one lesson per week working on building limitations, or getting to the course 30 minutes early to warm up. Break out of your normal routine to help break through mental barriers. Create a goal to perform a new swing movement, task, or practice regime each week.
Get Out of Your Own Way: See yourself in a new light, because you probably put self-induced limits on yourself. The truth is that sometimes you’ve just got to get out of your own way. If you begin seeing yourself as a better player, chances are you will be. Raise your opinion of your game and yourself and you will set the table for better performance.
Time to Change: Comfort feels all cozy and warm when you’re in it, but it’s also a double-edged sword. Stay comfortable for too long and you begin to get bored, lazy and too satisfied. If you want to improve, avoid being a walking golf zombie: just another “D” player that does what he/she has always done. Challenge your status quo, push your limits and you’ll see the game in a new light.
It won’t be easy, but I think you’ll like the results.
Clement: Release the body or the club and arms? Actually it’s both!
Have you been wondering about how to release the body or how to release the club or hands, this is the video for you! When you consider that we do this kind or releasing in all sports such as Ping Pong, Baseball, Tennis serving, football throwing and so much more, you will be very happy to see that plugging that release that you already know into your golf swing will be way easier than you think because you have been there already!
Clement: Hit narrow fairways more consistently with this easy alignment hack
The vast majority of golfers have poor alignment that ruins the chances at a successful execution of a golf shot for a green in regulation or a drive in the fairway. This video will help remove any doubt as to your alignment once and for all.
We humans have a very particular way of seeing things with binocular vision; and when you introduce the brain to side vision, it is literally impossible to line up properly when you don’t even know what you are seeing! Until now!
Clement: Over the top slice driver setup versus high draw driver setup
THE SECRET TO AWESOME DRIVES IS TO HAVE NICE LONG CARRIES WITH LOW SPIN AND THIS STARTS AT ADDRESS!
Many of the long drive competitors use this set up or get through the EXACT SAME impact dynamics as what we show you in this video. Also, The best player ever to have the most incredible driver stat of 91% fairways hit lifetime average is Moe Norman and this is how he did it. It is so logical and works so well, that you will be asking yourself “how come I never thought of that?”
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