I got into a discussion during the Ryder Cup.
It was one of those Twitter discussion which is incredibly frustrating – although the other person thought I was disagreeing with them, I wasn’t. Well, not exactly.
We were, in my opinion, saying much the same thing…but between the drama at Medinah, and Twitter’s 140-character limit, I wasn’t making much headway trying to explain myself.
I’d made a loose comment about the “pressure” of the Ryder Cup. And he’d picked up on it, saying “pressure isn’t real”.
I know where he’s coming from.
No matter the situation on the outside, there is only the ball, its lie, the club and the golfer.
There are no other tangible factors.
Anything else – any values or meaning associated with the shot are consequences imagined by the golfer. They’re not real, are they?
And, in the Ryder Cup, we’re talking about professional golfers at the pinnacle of the game.
After a succession of poor shots, duffed chips and a shank, shots the pro’s in question would’ve completed without a second thought in normal tournament play, my comment had been: “The Ryder Cup: where the pressure makes Tour Pro’s play like us”.
My correspondent, another mental coach, took the “pressure isn’t real” line, a school of thought I understand and have plenty of common ground with.
But I don’t totally agree.
Because I know pressure is real.
But I still have a lot of sympathy with his point of view.
Confused? Don’t worry – all will be explained. But perhaps you can now see why I had some trouble explaining myself on Twitter!
Dictionary.com has 9 definitions of pressure.
Numbers 6 and 7 are the most relevant: a constraining or compelling force or influence: the social pressures of city life; financial pressure, or urgency, as of affairs or business: He works well under pressure.
When it comes to performance, the “influence” is fear of failure and its consequences.
And this can be real.
Imagine you have to put a central IV into someone who has liver failure and a bleeding tendency. They need the IV…but you have to go in beside the carotid artery.
Or you’re putting in a temporary pacemaker in a patient whose heart rate is so slow they’re not getting enough blood to their brain…and they’re allergic drugs which can buy you some time.
You’d feel under a little pressure, wouldn’t you?
I’d suggest you would. I have, when I’ve been in similar situations. No matter how much you’ve been trained, pressure comes when the consequences are so severe.
But I’ve never felt like this on a golf course.
What do you think? Do you agree, or do you feel you’ve been under pressure out on the golf course? You can let me know via the usual channels; you can comment below, use the contact form or click here to email.
[image credit: "Pressure Gauge" by William Warby under Creative Commons License]