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Performance Anxiety Part 2

So the start to my tournament career as an amateur disc golfer was rough.  I enjoyed the physical challenge that the tournaments presented and I enjoyed the people I got to meet and befriend.  But for quite some time I didn't understand why it was that I performed so poorly in the tournaments compared to casual play.  Why couldn't I sink those putts?

I was reading an interview with the number one disc golfer in the world (he's like the Tiger Woods of disc golf) and he made an offhand comment about how he's really not playing to win.  He tries to play the best game he can and if that happens to be good enough to win then so be it.

When I read that I realized that guy was really on to something.  By just playing your game you remove all of the pressure of having to be better or best.  You can just enjoy trying to play well.  And, in turn, having a better head game improves your performance.

As you can guess, this obviously had a positive effect on how I performed at future tournaments.  No, I didn't suddenly become the number one ranked female in the world.  But the whole experience just turned out better.  I played consistently.

The best surprise for me, however, was how this shift in mentality affected my music performance.  Because music is not a scored game I was blissfully unaware as to how much this idea of being "better" had seeped into my performance mindset.

I'm not sure how much the technical execution of my performance changed but mentally the experience had significantly changed.  I was in the moment, concerned only with playing my part well.  In other words, I actually enjoyed performing.  It wasn't just a task that I learned how to cope with after years of conditioning.

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Performance Anxiety Part 1

My husband and I both love disc golf.  It's something that we both started together as beginners together so it became "our" thing to do as a couple.  We eventually got to the point after playing for a few years that I wanted to attempt playing in a disc golf tournament.  He was a bit more hesitant than me but I insisted, arguing that it would be a fun way to really test our skills.

I've written a few posts before about how playing disc golf taught me the value of muscle memory.  But during our first few tournaments we both quickly discovered a whole new category of unexplored skills: performing under pressure.  To be blunt, we both stunk.

As a musician, I was no stranger to performing.  I've lost count of how many solo/orchestra/chamber performances I've done.  Before that first tournament I had assumed that performance anxiety wouldn't affect me because of said experience.  I was just going out there to have fun, right?

Well, I was.  But the thing I had…