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:
- Technical: Your skill development or fundamentals.
- Physical: The physical development to support your technical skills.
- Strategic: Applying skills, course management, and understanding how to play the game.
- 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
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.