Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club


9 Ways To Train To Perform When It Matters


Photo by Fredrik Broden

A lot of players come to our Vision54 programs looking for help with their mental skills, but they also get a heightened awareness of what their bodies are doing when they play their best. That's really important, too. Your physical state is constantly changing, from round to round and even shot to shot. Some days your body might feel tight. On others it feels relaxed. You might be amped up on the front nine but sluggish on the back.

Our goal is to help you create and maintain a performance state that allows you to access your peak athletic ability no matter how you're feeling on the course. You can do that if you work on our balance, tempo and tension­—BTT—skills. Play nine-hole practice rounds doing one of the exercises we've outlined here per hole. Focus on the assignment, not how many strokes it took to hole out.

These drills are designed to get you more in tune with how your body and mind have to work together for you to unlock—and maintain—peak performance. Every hole you play and situation you face on the course is different in obvious and subtle ways. Players who are tuned in to BTT can better recognize those differences and make the adjustments that keep them fluid and able to perform when it matters. —With Matthew Rudy

1.) BALANCE: Hit full shots with your feet together, and chip and putt while standing on one leg. Finish each shot in balance.

2.) TEMPO: Make every swing (including putts) 50 percent slower than your normal tempo.

3.) TENSION: Think only about keeping your shoulders soft and loose during each stroke.

4.) FINISH: When you complete every swing, hold your finish for three seconds.

5.) PACE: Hit shots at 75 percent of your normal tempo.

6.) GRIP: For each swing, hold onto the club with consistent pressure.

7.) AWARENESS: Go through your normal pre-shot routine, but swing with your eyes closed.

8.) REHEARSAL: Don't hit any real shots until you first make a one-legged practice swing in balance.

9.) ATTITUDE: Play every shot with a smile on your face from the beginning of your routine to your finish. Keep tension out of your jaw.

Adapted with permission from Be a Player ($25), Atria Books, on sale June 6. Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott are ranked among the 50 Best Teachers in America. They coach in Scottsdale.