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How to Handle the Night Before Competition

Dow Gives Back through the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational
July 12, 2019

How to Handle the Night Before Competition

Creating a night-before competition routine is a great way to manage emotions and set the tone for your outing the next day. Here's how to create your own.
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Written By:

Sara Robinson

Sara is a Mental Skills Coach specializing in work with athletes. She received her M.A. in Sports Psychology from John F. Kennedy University and did her undergraduate work at New York University. Sara also helps support busy working moms develop their mental skills and create more balance at getmombalanced.com.

Great golfers know that they eat, sleep, and mentally prepare the night before competition can greatly impact their outing the next day. Many competitive golfers have pre-round and pre-shot routines, but did you know that your routine could start the night before?

 

What is a pre-competition routine?

A performance routine is a series of steps or tasks that help you prepare mentally and physically. A golfer could have a pre-shot routine that happens leading up to their swing, a post-hole routine where they review and plan, and even a pre-competition routine to get them in the right mental and physical space to play to their potential.

Routines help athletes feel calm, confident, and in control, and when you’re consistent with your routine, you’re more likely to have consistent play. What some golfers miss, though, is starting their routine the night before.

 

Why start your routine the night before competition?

Since a main benefit of routines is the consistency that it leads to, having a pre-competition routine that starts the night before a match can help with not only lowering stress and improving sleep, but it also helps set the stage for a consistent morning-of, and then consistent beginning-of play. You get the idea.

With golf often starting early in the day, sleep is hugely important. Nerves and over-thinking can get in the way of a good nights’ sleep and a routine can assist with lowering stress and preparing for a restful night before competition.

 

What should your routine include?

You want to consider what helps you be the readiest to play. The night before, the pieces in your routine may be more mental than physical (for example, imagery, and breathing) and preparatory (for example, making sure your clubs and clothes are ready), but it might also include physical steps like light stretching. Your morning-of routine will likely include physical elements as well as mental and emotional.

Each golfer is different: what you include and how long you spend on it is up to you, but consider including the following tasking in your pre-competition routine:

  • Check Equipment and Clothing
    Make sure you have everything you need ready so that you’re not wasting time or stressing in the morning.
  • Taking Enough Time
    Set aside enough time to do imagery to go over how you want certain shots to go, or review some of the tougher shots by studying the course beforehand to help with this.
  • Meditation
    Breathing or meditation to help you wind down, quiet your mind a bit, and ideally drift off to sleep.
  • Make it Personal
    Anything that personally helps you calm down and destress will help you get your head in the right mindset and prepare you to play your best.

Competition is exciting but can also create stress and nerves. Creating a night-before competition routine is a great way to manage emotions and set the tone for your outing the next day. Keep in mind that you can use this routine not only before competition, but before any outing (and in fact, you should so that you get really comfortable with your routine). The more consistently you use your routine, the more comfortable you will feel while completing these steps, and the bigger impact it will have on you and your golf game.

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