DIDN´T WIN THE TROPHY BUT WON SOMETHING BIGGER IN RETURN.

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Today I wanted to talk about my eventful week in New Zealand. But since this is just a golf category post, I am strictly covering the mental aspects of my competitive experience.

New Zealand was my last LPGA tournament of 2017. I wasted my chances to qualify for the Asian swing events. So the MCKAYSON Championship was my last opportunity to redeem a whole year of hard work and sacrifices. It was also my last chance to prove that I still got it in me, my last proof that I still wanted to keep on fighting. 

I dreamt about playing well this event for many previous days, because of the extra weight it had on me. I had been playing very well the last couple of months but wasn't able to finish up the job during the weekends. So I wasn't climbing up the rankings at all, I was becoming stagnant into this mediocre stage of my life.

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Not sure what made the click that week. There are many different factors I could think of that have helped me indirectly achieve a more calmness state of mind. But none of them could have been as easily achieved without all the hard technical work I have put into my swing this year. 

The main one I can think of might sound silly in paper but the end result was huge. I was submerged in a Spanish Netflix show called Velvet. This is very interesting to me because it is one of the things that helped me the most to keep myself distracted during specific moments in my day like : before going to bed, bus rides, tournament delays, etc. It is normal that during those moments golf thoughts and doubts creep my mind and create a level of anxiety I really don't need. Nights before competing I went to bed watching an episode of my show and that helped me reduce the chances of thinking about golf. 

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Some of the thoughts that will pop in my head are: dramatizing over the speed of the greens (I don't like slow greens so when I face bumpy greens or slow greens I become very fidgety); visualizations of myself missing putts; images of myself push slicing my tee shots, etc. Those thoughts are not objective or rational. It´s just my head playing mind games with me because of anxiety and/or fear. But it is really hard to get rid of those thoughts because emotions are hard to control. In that case, I played games with my mind by filling it with nonsense fiction drama from Velvet.

Another factor was staying away from social media and whatsapp messages. It is a blessing to receive so many supporting messages when you play well. You don't realize how many people (even random friends of yours) that are truly following your progress, until you receive the wave of messages after a good performance. It is very gratifying, but it creates a negative effect on my personality. Reading them would have projected me into the future, visualizing possible outcomes I shouldn't be thinking of right at that moment.

This other factor was a total game changer; however, it is easy to say now but harder to put it in play. That week, my mindset was different for almost 72 holes in a row. I say almost because obviously thoughts of doubt creeped my mind during the last round. While playing, I was only focused on what I wanted to do. I knew focusing on my routines helped, so I committed to that always prior to hitting a shot. But it was more than that. Last week I only saw the shots for what they were, just shots. I looked at the scenario it presented and decided my outcome before hitting. This sounds very easy when writing about it, but to be able to get into that mindset I believe it requires a lot of hard work not just yourself, but from your caddy ( Carlos Lopez @chapas_jetlag ); physical trainer and physio ( Jayson Mathiou @mathiouhealthservices ) and coach (Jorge Parada @jorgeparadagolf )  People say its very important to work on the mental part of the game; however, if you don't hit it straight where can you rely your confidence from?

 72nd hole, last putt - birdie putt. It meant a lot to me. I yelled a big VAMOS (bigger celebration than Brooke after she sank her birdie to win the tournament. I was celebrating my little victory. 

72nd hole, last putt - birdie putt. It meant a lot to me. I yelled a big VAMOS (bigger celebration than Brooke after she sank her birdie to win the tournament. I was celebrating my little victory. 

Thats right. I had put the hard work, days in and days out. And slowly I started feeling the control over the ball. When that starts happening, you achieve a calmness that eases your decision making over the ball.

The last round was a little bit harder on me. The situation wasn't ideal to maintain focus. All the delays cost me. There was a lot of talks about cancelling the round that threw me off. I tried walking away from those comments, (like I was trying to stay away from my cell phone and reading the messages); but it got me. When I went out there, I played OK. But on the greens I doubted like I never did on previous rounds. My caddy told me after the putt on 18 that I called him on the green to ask about breaks for the first time during that round. Never did that once on the previous rounds. I had doubts, I visualized misses and couldn't commit to my routines and decisions. I was still able to converse with my caddy about this in the last couple of holes, and managed to make a birdie in the last hole. It was probably the most important birdie of the year. I wanted it so badly. That it that precise shot I was able to maintain that tunnel vision I lacked in the holes before. That putt helped maintain my card for next year. I didnt earn my full card, but thanks to that putt I am close enough to be able to get into almost all the events next year. And that is much to celebrate. But most importantly, that last putt taught me so much. It taught me that pressure should derail you from your routine and your goals. Pressure is a blessing and one should enjoy it. Brooke played aggressive that last day. Her game is so polished is scary, she is super talented. But she kept on pushing until the end. Every shot mattered. I did that in the last previous 54, but lost focus after the delays. Playing alongside the champion, Brooke Henderson, taught me so much that the loss felt like a small victory to me.

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HOLE IN ONE VIDEO

Hoy me gustaría hablaros de mi semana memorable en Nueva Zelanda. Pero como este es un post de golf solamente, me voy a limitar a hablar de la parte mental de mi viaje. Ya dejo para mas adelante el post dedicado a turismo.

Nueva Zelanda era mi última semana competitiva en el LPGA para el año 2017. Se me agotaron las oportunidades para clasificar a los torneos limitados en Asia. Así que el torneo en NZ era mi última oportunidad para demostrarme que todo el trabajo que estaba poniendo merecía la pena. Era mi última prueba para seguir confiando en el proceso de esto que llaman golf.

Soñé jugar bien esta semana varias noches antes de viajar, quizás por el peso extra que llevaba encima y la presión añadida. Llevaba jugando bastante bien durante meses, pero los resultados no salían. Estaba pasando cortes, pero no era capaz de meter vueltas buenas el fin de semana. Con lo cual, no me estaba moviendo en el ranking. Me había quedado estancada en un etapa de mediocridad.

No sería capaz de señalar con el dedo a la razón principal de superación aquella semana. Tengo mis ideas de los factores que causaron una mejora en mi estado de calma mental. Pero todos ellos no hubieran sido posible alcanzarlos sin antes haber metido las horas de trabajo técnico como le he estado metiendo este año.

Lo primero que se me viene a la cabeza va a sonar bobo en papel pero tuvo una influencia muy positiva en mi templanza mental esa semana. Empecé a ver la serie Velvet en Netflix y me enganche totalmente. Esto es bastante raro en mi, ya que yo soy mas de leer libros o estudiar que ver series. Pero hacia tiempo que no conseguía distraer mi mente tanto. Me acostaba viendo un capitulo, me levanta y veía otro capitulo en el trayecto en autobús hacia el campo, y veía mas capítulos durante los retrasos por mal tiempo en el campo de golf. Esos son momentos claves, ya que en esos momentos es inevitable consumirse en pensamientos de golf, tu swing, tu ronda, tus miedos, ansiedades..etc. Ver la serie me quemaba esos momentos, y me dejaba fresca para cuando tuviera que estar centrada en solo darle a la bola. Suena simple no? Parece mentira!

Otro factor que me ayudo muchísimo a manejar los niveles de ansiedad fue mantenerme alejada de las redes sociales y los mensajes recibidos de amigos y fans apoyándome para ganar. No quiero que me malinterpretéis. Es increíble sentirse tan querida y aclamada por tantos. Pero esa semana yo estaba manejando un nivel de ansiedad ya alto por la presión que tenía, que no quería descontrolarme leyendo mensajes de apoyo. Leerlos me hubiera proyectado en el futuro, visualizando posibles resultados.

Este último cambio que voy a mencionar ahora fue sin duda alarmante en términos de efectividad. Es fácil hablar de ello pero más difícil ponerlo en práctica. Esa semana, mi mentalidad fue distinta casi 72 hoyos seguidos. Digo casi, porque razones obvias hay para saber que el último día no conseguí llegar a ese estado en algunos golpes. Mientras jugaba, solo estaba centrada en lo que tenia que hacer. Ya sabia, y había puesto en prueba, que centrándome en mis rutinas me ayudaba muchísimas en momentos de presión. Y sólo me centre en cumplir esa meta. Pero esa semana fui mas allá de solo centrarme en la rutina. Esa semana veía los golpes por lo que en realidad eran, simplemente golpes. Era capaz de diseminar cada golpe sin atribuirle nombres, ni adjetivos ni presiones. Simplemente entender lo que el golpe me pedía en ese momento como si fuera un día normal de mi vida. Esto es MUY DIFÍCIL. Y hacedme caso cuando os digo, ese momento de frescura mental sólo llega cuando tienes control de tu juego. Por ende, los miedos y las dudas esperan arrinconados a atacar cuando te sientas mas vulnerable. Y ya todos sabemos que para llegar a controlar tu juego, se necesita mucho trabajo no solo por tu parte, si no por parte del caddy (Carlos Lopez - @chapas_jetlag ), tu entrenador físico, tu fisioterapeuta (@mathiouhealthservices )  y tu coach ( @jorgeparadagolf ).

La última vuelta fue un poco mas complicada para mi. La situación en la que me encontraba con los retraso debido al clima no ayudaba a mantenerme calmada. Todos esos parones me invadieron de ansiedad y dudas. Mucha gente comentaba la opción de cancelar la ronda y por ende yo creé muchos planes a futuro. Cuando salimos a reanudar la vuelta, ya era tarde. Estaba jugando bien, de hecho juegué bastante correcto. Pero las ansiedades crearon dudas y miedos. En los greens perdí la confianza y visualizaba demasiados putts fallados. De hecho, mi caddy Carlos me dijo después de meter el último putt en el 18 que ese día fue la única vez en toda la semana que le preguntaba por caídas en los greenes. No fui capaz de centrarme en mi rutina y confiar en mis decisiones. Y esa fue mi experiencia educativa. Jugar al lado de la campeona del torneo -Brooke Henderson- me enseñó tanto, que de una manera extraña, la derrota se transformó en una pequeña victoria. Y con perdón, pero hay que tener muchos huevos para decir esto!

Y esto es una de las cosas que más puedo valorar de mi: que después de todo lo que me pasó , salgo victoriosa de esa semana. Me siento positiva y con mucha hambre de seguir aprendiendo de las situaciones que la vida me presenta.

 

 

 

 

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