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When you are in the beginning stages of a slump and you feel your game slipping, the natural human reaction is to try to get the most control possible over your game. This is usually accomplished by becoming physically and mentally tight.

By mentally tight, I mean trying too hard to analyze and come up with the answer. It's just like agonizing over your car that just broke down on the side of the road. The first thing you do, even if you don't have a clue about mechanics, is pop the hood. Then you look in, wondering what could have gone wrong. Some of you know just enough about your car (like me) to be dangerous, so you tinker and prod. Then you start to THINK (biggest mistake). "Fred did this when his truck broke down, Jean did this when her car broke down..." Or the next step is read a do-it-yourself manual. Does this seem a lot like what you do with your golf swing? Friends' opinions and Golf Digest or the Golf Channel -- all the research that you have done will undoubtedly be mentally valuable, but if you followed through on one of your hunches it could be physically taxing.

The most important thing to do is REMAIN CALM. Your golf swing, unlike your vehicle, is subject to mental and emotional stresses that can aggravate the situation. Then ask yourself this simple question. Do I NEED to play well at this exact point in time for the sake of my family, my friends or my life? If you determine, like most of us will, that the importance of this round is minor, then simply relax and laugh. Think of this round as an opportunity that doesn't come along very often and have fun throwing caution to the wind. Reckless abandon on the golf course can be the most fun you've ever had, because your expectations are so low that any shot at all becomes a good shot.

The next thing you should do is ask around to determine what golf professional you should consult. An hour with a golf professional can save weeks or months of gradually worsening play. I am now a teaching professional trying to eventually play on the PGA tour because I did not go to a good teaching professional for guidance about my swing for a steady period of time. I believe that I could already be on tour if I had done so.

If you feel that you need to do it on your own, I have some advice for you. After playing this game for 17 years and going through at least 3 or 4 slumps a year, I have determined that each time I peak after I slump, it is just as miraculous as the first time I did. The actual time of peak performance cannot be exactly determined, but the actual time that you will end your slump is.

To end a slump you must first accept that you are not playing well and that there is something you can do about it. Next, you must relax and return to the roots of a good golf swing, which is your tempo and your ability to let the club do the work. The place to capture this feeling is on the driving range with a 9 iron. Hit shots in slow motion with full swings until you begin striking the ball crisply. Then go and get another bucket of balls and hit all of them with your slow motion 9 iron swing. Then go home and come back the next day. If it is still working with the slow motion 9 iron, you can use other clubs in the same manner -- it doesn't matter which clubs you use.

Good luck and have fun watching yourself come out of a slump.

 ©1999 Craig Hocknull
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