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5 Mental-Game Myths That Might Be Holding You Back



I have the wonderful privilege of working with some of the world’s leading athletes in many different sports (including professional golf at all levels). These athletes leave no stone unturned when it comes to training and performance. They understand that performance starts in the mind — that it frames all of the “performance pieces” — so building their mental and emotional muscles is a priority for maximizing their abilities. Spending equal time on all the key areas of performance enables them to have a healthy, proactive approach to their sport.


In an athlete-performance model, there are four key areas:

  1. Technical: Your skill development or fundamentals.
  2. Physical: The physical development to support your technical skills.
  3. Strategic: Applying skills, course management, and understanding how to play the game.
  4. Mental/Emotional: Critical fundamentals and tools that drive the physical performance.

In the game of golf, there’s been a recent emphasis on technology and perfecting technique. This has been due to new tools that have allowed us to better quantify, isolate, and measure the impact of physical training and the equipment factor. The formal training of the player’s mind is being talked about more than ever, but it’s still pushed down the list and not getting the attention it deserves.

This lack of training of the mental/emotional component can inhibit golfers from truly bringing maximum value to their own game, as a strong mental and emotional game often ignites the other performance pieces. An organized, self-aware, confident player is one who can maximize the impact of fundamental technique, training, and equipment.

The traditional nature of the game of golf has facilitated an environment of late adoption to new approaches compared to other sports. Most players and coaches have not embraced the exponential benefits of a mental and emotional high-performance program. The late adoption is potentially being driven by some myths about performance that are not entirely understood. These myths may be ultimately holding players back from progress in the quest to reach their potential and fully maximize their experience in the sport.

5 Mental-Game Myths That Might Be Holding You Back

myths and facts balance sign

I’d like to highlight and dispel a few myths that may prevent you from working on and developing your mental and emotional muscles. Ultimately, these myths may keep you from being the best player you can be.

Myth 1: There is something wrong with me if I need to work on mental/emotional skills in my sport.

Fact: Mental and emotional high-performance development in sport is not about fixing an athlete. It’s focused on helping athletes develop skills that are required to maximize abilities. It’s an educational process that’s similar to building your technical, physical, and strategic skills each day. The same effort must be made to develop the mental and emotional aspect.

Myth 2: Mental and emotional high-performance training is for players who are mentally weak.

Fact: Mental and emotional training is for all players. Any player at any level should be developing the skills that more fully allow them to express their technical and physical training. Consider that almost every great player is coached, no matter what level. Why? So they can continue to improve and ensure sustainability and consistency.

Myth 3: Mental and emotional high-performance development is only for elite players.

Fact: No matter what level or age, any golfer can benefit from mental and emotional high-performance development. Parents and coaches can also benefit. Not only will mental and emotional high-performance development help you on the course, but the skills are highly transferable to all areas of life like school, business, leadership, and relationships.

Myth 4: Mental and emotional training is a quick fix and a short-term thing.

Fact: Mental and emotional training in golf is a process to build independence and confidence in the client athlete. Like any skill, it takes time and repetition to build competency and confidence. Tricks and tips never work. Mastery of mental/emotional fundamentals and a great process does.

Myth 5: Mental and emotional training is too much like therapy: lying on a couch talking about my feelings.

Fact: Mental and emotional training in golf is about high performance and developing performance skills. A great performance coach has a defined, quantifiable process that includes assessment, building detailed plans, communicating with coaches, and using the latest technologies to help the player improve. The work is done through conversation, watching, reviewing, and planning at a convenient location or on the course.

Don’t Wait for Things to Fall Apart

I encourage you to be an early adopter and take the next step to maximize your golf abilities so you can more fully enjoy the sport you love. Be proactive and don’t wait for your mental/emotional game to fail before you give it attention. Take a developmental stance and build the skills to maximize your abilities and gain an edge in the game.

As a major added benefit, you’ll take these skills and become a high performer in everything you do.

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John Haime is the President of New Edge Performance. He's a Human Performance Coach who prepares performers to be the their best by helping them tap into the elusive 10 percent of their abilities that will get them to the top. This is something that anyone with a goal craves, and John Haime knows how to get performers there. John closes the gap for performers in sports and business by taking them from where they currently are to where they want to go.  The best in the world trust John. They choose him because he doesn’t just talk about the world of high performance – he has lived it and lives in it everyday. He is a former Tournament Professional Golfer with professional wins. He has a best-selling book, “You are a Contender,” which is widely read by world-class athletes, coaches and business performers.  He has worked around the globe for some of the world’s leading companies. Athlete clients include performers who regularly rank in the Top-50 in their respective sports. John has the rare ability to work as seamlessly in the world of professional sports as he does in the world of corporate performance. His primary ambition writing for GolfWRX is to help you become the golfer you'd like to be. See for more. Email:



  1. John Haime

    Sep 23, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Thank-you Tom – that was the intention of the article – to point out the lack of attention to a critical piece in the performance puzzle – thanks again for the great comment!

  2. Bob Jacobs

    Sep 18, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Sorry, not helpful. Why not give us some “here’s what to do to improve the mental side of your game”, vs here’s why most people don’t seek help for the mental side.

    Read too much like a “why people don’t see a therapist” article from Psychology Today.

    • John Haime

      Sep 18, 2017 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks for the comment Bob.

      I do think it’s important to point out why golfers don’t work on a very important part of the game. What do you do to work on it? I have written many articles for WRX (you can see them) that can offer some ideas for you. But first – I think it’s important to point out why golfers aren’t doing it.

      More articles coming to help.

  3. Bob Jacobs

    Sep 18, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    I’m personally not a fan of these articles and their titles that are just teasers and don’t offer any real input or advice.

    I’m expecting to hear a few pearls of wisdom about how to use some mental tools to shoot lower scores or a program to focus more on the mental side of golf. For me this was just must too obvious and read like a “why do most people not go to a therapist sort of article”…give me some beef, give me something I can use, give me some knowledge!!

    • John Haime

      Sep 18, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      Lol Bob – here’s some beef for you – Love your passion! As you know an effort has to be made to improve any area of performance. Thanks!

  4. John Haime

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Hey Walter,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Here’s my bio with my experience – Purdue was a nice experience and ignited a desire to learn – that’s all. Graduated in Management.

    The next 25 years have been a wide education in human performance in corporate, athletics and the arts – all helping the other with new ideas.

    I also played Professional golf for 7 years – helping me understand the intricacies of sport – consider that as part of my education.

    I have found that Sport Psychology is a narrow area and much more needed to get results with performers. It is also perceived as negative – athletes thinking there is something wrong with them if they need it – a problem! No one goes to a Psychologist when things are going well or to develop skills – and that is what athletes need – a well-rounded learning experience with Sport Psychology being a piece of it.

    Hope this helps your curiosity.


  5. WalterG

    Sep 15, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    “Sport psychology is an interdisciplinary science that draws on knowledge from many related fields including biomechanics, physiology, kinesiology and psychology. It involves the study of how psychological factors affect performance and how participation in sport and exercise affect psychological and physical factors.[1] In addition to instruction and training of psychological skills for performance improvement, applied sport psychology may include work with athletes, coaches, and parents regarding injury, rehabilitation, communication, team building, and career transitions.”
    According to your bio you are a graduate of Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA. Could you tell us what you graduated in and when?
    You present yourself as someone who understands and applies sport psychology. What are your academic qualifications? Thanks.

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