Expectations on Tournament Day

A student of ours came to a great revelation the other day. After several months of shooting and taking lessons, his scores had gone way up, and had started to go up and down. The ups were good, but the downs were becoming too much the norm. The downs were really showing up on tournament day.

"All I want is a trophy and to get out of E class," he would say. "But really I just want the trophy."

We would try to explain to him not to let his expectations steer his tournament day. Finally, after several bad scoring tournament days, he called whining about how bad he was performing. Gil and I both talked to him about his goals, his expectations, and his learning curve, but we especially wanted him to relax and enjoy the game, learn from his mistakes, and to let his performance go, and stop whining about not winning.

The next day he went and played a round of golf, (having not played in three years) very relaxed and not expecting anything but to have fun. That is exactly what happened. He couldn’t miss. Always hitting the ball perfectly – not concerned about the woods or the water. He even got applause from the group behind him after hitting a great iron shot farther than anyone did with their woods. He couldn’t believe the way he had played. It was better than when he played every week. He called to tell us about this experience and how he had taken what we had been telling him about not being so mechanical and letting it go and used it on the golf course. He was amazed that he had played so well.

Our next step was to take this relaxed state to the sporting clays course. Not surprisingly, the same thing happened - his scores went straight up.

The most important things that Gil and I saw were that his attitude was so much more relaxed and his performance went up. Paul, in his need to get a trophy, had forgotten why he had taken up the sport of sporting clays. He had forgotten how fun it was to break those clay targets. His expectations had made him more concerned about missing targets rather than enjoying breaking them.

This is a sport and it's supposed to be fun. Getting yourself all worked up over your misses only causes you to concentrate on missing and not hitting. If you are thinking about missing, then that is exactly what you are going to get. Think about the hits and about how much fun it is to break those targets. You will find that you enjoy it more and your scores will probably go up.