When I think of getting the most out of an individual’s game I think of 3 words: Rhythm, Determination, and Freedom. Any one of these done well can help your game. But, put them together for a powerhouse of performance.
Often times when we think of Rhythm we think about our swing and the timing in which it moves. Rhythm is not less than that, but it definitely can mean more. Good swing rhythm can help cover up poor mechanics; it can help you to routinely make solid contact and control the club face.
However, rhythm is at its best when it controls the overall cadence to how you play. The best players have rhythm to their routine; a cadence that dictates how they prepare physically and mentally for each shot, and the cadence to which they execute the shot. Ideally that rhythm does not change from the first tee, to a tap in, to the shot that could win you the tournament on the 18th hole. Having a solid rhythm surrounding your game will lead to a more consistent rhythm in your swing.
Determination is a mindset of champions. It is simply being fixated on accomplishing what you set out to accomplish. It is about having clear vision of your performance and established goals by which you expect to accomplish them. Determination is not deterred by failure or poor performance. Determination does not waiver in the face of adversity. Determination is what keeps you focused on your process goals. Determination is what keeps you disciplined.
Freedom is a choice you make; it is a choice to let go of the results and trust your process. Deep down in our soul we all long for a life of freedom. Fear and anxiety just lead you to being a slave to your performance, as does pride and arrogance. But, freedom allows you to not be defined by your performance. You are always at your best when you play with freedom. Freedom allows you to swing with confidence. It starts before you ever swing the club. You must decide to let go and be free before you ever play any shot, or compete in any round.
Freedom alone leads to a nice life; it helps to get rid of and even avoid stress. However, freedom alone does not necessarily lead to high level performance.
Determination alone can help you to reach your goals and achieve new heights. But, it can also lead you to a stressful and uptight life. Harold Abrahams in the movie Chariots of Fire says, “I'm forever in pursuit and I don't even know what I am chasing,” and later says, “I will raise my eyes and look down that corridor; 4 feet wide, with 10 lonely seconds to justify my whole existence. But WILL I?” Now, this man has determination, but no freedom, and is miserable.
To perform at your highest level, you must harness both determination and freedom, working them into a purposeful rhythm.
This must be accomplished in your practice. For your practice to deliver significant results, you must practice with determination and freedom; you must train yourself to be determined and free. Your practice needs to work with purpose towards your performance vision. That vision leads to process goals; process goals set forth the road map for how to reach your vision. Your determination to go down that road, sticking to those goals, coupled with the freedom to let go of the possible results, all held together by a purposeful rhythm, will put you in a position to perform at your best.
Today begin the journey down that road. Be determined, live with freedom, and walk that journey with a purposeful rhythm. The best players in the world are working to get better today. Shouldn’t you?