21 Tips to Play Great at Tournament Time

Former UCLA golf coach Jackie Steinmann prepared her golfers with these 21 tips to play great at tournament time. Many of the principles transfer to athletes in other sports to achieve competitive excellence.

  1. Play the round in their mind the night before which gives them an extra practice round.

  2. Make a list of things that they do well and read them on the way to the event.

  3. Dance only to their music by listening to music that fits their swing. It’s a mistake to get into somebody else’s rhythm.

  4. Get to the course one-hour ahead of tee time leaving enough time for personal things so that there is no rushing.

  5. Leave all personal problems on the seat of the bus, car or plane. They will be there when they return.

  6. Warm up the body and the mind on the practice area. Do not allow them to work on mechanics or attempt to change their swing. The purpose is to discover how they are swinging for that day. Changes can be made after the round or after the tournament.

  7. Be sure they leave enough time to get the feel of the putting green. The important part here is to get the feeling for distance. This can be done by putting distance putts to the edge of the green taking out the element of the hole.

  8. Their attitude should be confident, peaceful and patient.

  9. They must commit to walking, talking and acting like a winner no matter what happens, right down to the body language. A good idea might be to think about their favorite golfer and act like they would act.

  10. Make a good yardage book during the practice round keeping a record of clubs hit to the different targets.

  11. Have a game plan and stick to it.

  12. Stay in the present. Forget the past and don’t worry about the future. The past they can’t do anything about and what they do now affects the future.

  13. Commit to giving every shot 100%. Do the best they can on each shot, one shot at a time.

  14. Anchor the good shots. Pause 3 to 5 seconds after making a great shot and remember exactly how it felt. This will put the shot into the athlete’s memory. When a similar shot is coming up they can “pull it up” in their memory before taking a swing.

  15. They must be positive about everything. Negativity will kill their game and getting serious will retard their imagination.

  16. Be totally target oriented for the entire round.

  17. They must stick to their pre-shot routine on EVERY shot.

  18. Play as if the course was their favorite course, favorite hole, favorite weather and favorite playing partners.

  19. Praise their partner’s good shots.

  20. Wave to or signal their teammates when they see them. It creates team spirit.

  21. After the round have them tell about the shot of the day or the hole of the day or the putt of the day. Give each person a turn.

Excerpted from the Championship Performance Coaches Journal.