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Dr. Bob Rotella: My 10 Rules On Mental Fitness

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By Dr. Bob Rotella
With Alan Pittman
Photo by Walter Iooss Jr.
June 2009
Written by Golf Digest

01 Believe you can win.
I still remember my first major, the 1985 city championship in Charlottesville, Va. Back then I didn’t play a lot of golf, but I wanted to see how good the players in my town were. I shot in the 80s and finished third from last. When I got done, I decided to follow the leaders so I could see how my game compared. After watching them for 18 holes, my evaluation was this: They hit it farther than I did. They hit it straighter. Their bunker play was fantastic. And they chipped and putted better. But I left there believing that if those guys could win, so could I. I worked on my game, and over time I got better, including one winter when all I did each day after work was hit bunker shots. Eight years after I first competed, I made a 12-foot putt on 18 to win my city championship.

02 Don’t be seduced by results.
How can Trevor Immelman get to the 18th green of the final round of the 2008 Masters and not know where he stands? It’s called staying in the present, and it’s a philosophy I teach all the players I work with. It means not allowing yourself to be seduced by a score or by winning until you run out of holes. Instead, you get lost in the process of executing each shot and accept the result.

Before Trevor teed off on Sunday with a two-shot lead, he decided he wouldn’t look at leader boards. He had a plan: Pick a target, visualize the shot and let it rip. As Trevor walked up the 18th fairway, Brandt Snedeker put his arm around him and nudged him to walk ahead. Trevor told me it was the first time all day he allowed himself to think about the outcome. After marking his ball, he asked his caddie how they were doing. His caddie said he had a three-stroke lead over Tiger. Trevor said he went from being quiet and calm inside to thinking, How can I not five-putt this?

03 Sulking won’t get you anything.
The worst thing you can do for your prospects of winning is to get down when things don’t go well. If you start feeling sorry for yourself or thinking the golf gods are conspiring against you, you’re not focused on the next shot. When Padraig Harrington won the British Open in 2007, he got up and down for a double-bogey 6 on the last hole to make a playoff after knocking two balls into the water. Padraig told me he had a level of acceptance that earlier in his career he didn’t have. He said it never entered his mind that he might blow the tournament. His only thought was getting his ball in the hole so he could win the playoff.

04 Beat them with patience.
Every time you have the urge to make an aggressive play, go with the more conservative one. You’ll always be OK. In a tournament, the rough is thicker, the pins are tougher, and the greens are faster. The moment you get impatient, bad things happen.

The best example of patience I ever witnessed was Tom Kite at the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Kite had been 0 for 20 in U.S. Opens until then. On Sunday, wind gusts reached 35 miles per hour, but Kite didn’t get flustered. On a day when a lot of players didn’t break 80, Kite shot even par and won by two. In tough conditions, stay patient and let others beat themselves.

05 Ignore unsolicited swing advice.
Not too long ago, I was working with this player who was struggling. But a couple of strong finishes had him feeling better. At the next tournament he makes, like, eight birdies in the first round. Now he’s feeling really good. He stops by the putting green to hit a few, and a player he knows walks up to him and says: “I don’t know what you’re doing with your putting, but that’s not the way you used to set up.” A few minutes later another player comes over: “You don’t have your eyes over the ball the way you used to.” Now my guy doesn’t know what to think. He went from making everything he looked at to being a mess the next day.

You’ll have lots of well-meaning friends who want to give you advice. Don’t accept it. In fact, stop them before they can say a word. Their comments will creep into your mind when you’re on the course. If you’ve worked on your game, commit to the plan and stay confident.

06 Embrace your golf personality.
Some players like Anthony Kim love to socialize on the course. Others like Retief Goosen keep to themselves. The key is to find what works best for you. The toughest player, mentally and emotionally, I’ve ever worked with is Pat Bradley, the LPGA Tour Hall of Famer. She was like Ben Hogan — she didn’t talk to anybody when she played. She told me she didn’t have time to chat with players because she had an ongoing dialogue with herself. I still remember the day she called to tell me she was done. She’d been on the range before a tournament giving tips to other players. Later, on the first few holes, she found herself chitchatting with her playing partners. “I can’t play golf this way,” she told me. “I’m done. I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish.”

07 Have a routine to lean on.
I tell players to follow a mental and physical routine on every shot. It keeps you focused on what you have to do, and when the pressure is on, it helps you manage your nerves. A pre-shot routine helped Curtis Strange win his first U.S. Open, in 1988. Afterward he went home and watched the tape with his wife and kids. He told me they kept commenting on how cool and calm he looked. Curtis said to me: “I’m thinking, Who in the world are they talking about? They can’t be talking about me. I couldn’t get any moisture in my mouth. My heart was jumping out of my chest.” Curtis said he had so much emotion in his body it was unbelievable. He was working his tail off just to stay in the present, hit one shot at a time and not think about what it would mean to win the U.S. Open.

‘It’s easy to build up a tournament into something so huge that you can’t play.’

08 Find peace on the course.
When you practice hard and admit to yourself that you really want to win, it’s easy to build up a tournament into something so huge that you can’t play. I’ve seen amateurs not used to competing arrive two hours before their tee time and try to rebuild their golf swings. They become panicked practicers and try to perfect every area of their game. They get themselves so tied up in knots it’s ridiculous. Tour players do this, too. I’ve seen guys come to Augusta, rent a big house and invite their family and friends. When Thursday comes around, they start worrying: What if I miss the cut and disappoint everyone? The golf course has to be your sanctuary, the thing you love, and you can’t be afraid of messing up.

09 Test yourself in stroke play.
I’m a big believer that stroke play is real golf. I know lots of people who are good in matches who can’t play a lick at stroke play. But most guys who are good at stroke play also thrive in matches. When you have to count every shot, it’s a tougher game. Too often guys go out as a foursome and play “our best ball against your best ball.” That has its place, but stroke play makes you mentally tough.

10 Find someone who believes in you.
The greatest thing I’ve got going for me is my ability to believe in other people’s talents. I can see people doing things they can’t see themselves doing. Every champion needs that. Hogan once told me he considered quitting the game several times early in his career because he didn’t think he was providing for his wife the way he should. But Valerie wouldn’t let him quit. She knew he’d never be satisfied until he won majors. Having confidence in yourself is important, but it helps to have someone who believes in you, too, whether it’s a spouse, a friend, a teacher, or even a sport psychologist.

Read More http://www.golfdigest.com/magazine/2009-06/bobrotella_10rules#ixzz1fd8G7gpO

Read More http://www.golfdigest.com/magazine/2009-06/bobrotella_10rules#ixzz1fd83pFcL

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. CJ

    Dec 29, 2011 at 9:56 am

    I can’t agree more with #06.

    I play my best golf when I am alone on the course or when I am playing with someone but there is little to no conversation. If I play with people that are making a lot of small talk I need to separate myself from it because I’ve found it makes at least a 5 stroke difference in my scores. I guess I am an anti-social golfer.

  2. Dane Byers

    Dec 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    this article gave me goosebumps. i can see that the few chances i have to play in tournaments i build it up, and that while most of the time i have confidence i let to much doubt creep in to my mind. its amazing how we let the simple things go away and let in to much of the clutter.

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Me and My Golf: Top 5 driving tips (plus one of our biggest giveaways ever)

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In this week’s Impact Show, we share with you five of our best driving tips that have helped many of our students and online members knock shots off their scores!

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WATCH: When to chip with your 60-degree wedge

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In this video, Ryan Benzel, PGA Pro at Sahalee Country Club shows you when to use your 60-degree wedge around the green.

 

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Is your “dad bod” ruining your golf swing? This workout can help

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This article was co-written with Nick Buchan, owner of the excellent online resource Stronger Golf

If you are a working father, I’m willing to bet that over the years, golf and working out have slipped down the priority list a few spots. While commitments such as work, family, more work and kid’s taxi service have increased, so the time for working on your game and body has dwindled to almost nothing.

This has likely left you feeling a little disconnected from your former athletic prime, we know that sedentary lifestyles are strongly linked to decreased muscle mass, reduced strength and increased BMI. This will likely have a negative impact on club-head speed and fatigue levels during the round.

Worst still, all that time spent chained to the office desk has likely ingrained some poor postural habits and negatively affected your ability to turn in the golf swing. Fixed posture is thought to be a key contributor to neck and back pain, generally causes all manor of aches, niggles and discomfort, whilst placing a general ‘lock’ on your mobility.

Sitting at a desk all day (in fact staying in any one position for long periods of time) causes your body to adapt to make that position more efficient. For example, sitting all day may cause your hip flexors to become short and weak (due to lack of load on them), your glutes to shut off and your spine to flex forward, which in turn can result in anterior pelvic tilt, which leads to your hamstrings and low back feeling ‘tight.’

As you can see this postural pattern has pretty far reaching consequences, all of which contribute to those niggles you get from daily life and when you do get a chance to play, negatively affect your ability to execute the golf swing of old.

Further, the lack of systematic load on your musculature is causing a lack of tissue resiliency – i.e. those aches and pains you’ve been experiencing – as well as leading to reduced force output. This is an issue as force output is the vital ingredient for moving fast, the ultimate determinant of club-head speed, and even correlates to how long you will live!

If and when you do get the chance to practice or play, the postural inhibition, loss of strength and lack of golf movement pattern practice are likely to be major restrictive factors in the outcome.

The good news is (as you probably already know), a solid exercise routine can counteract the detrimental effects of your lifestyle that have manifested themselves in “Dad Bod Syndrome.”

The bad news is, you’ve tried that before and can never quite make it stick. You’ve likely been left disappointed about the falling standard of your game and frustrated at the lack of time available to fix the problems.

The Proposed Solution

Work out in way that is quick, easy, efficient, doesn’t require much equipment and targets the following priority areas for improvement:

  • Lose some body fat
  • Gain mobility in T-Spine, Shoulders and Hips
  • Improve Posture
  • Re-gain some basic strength
  • Practice a quality golf movement pattern

This quick and easy, circuit style workout ticks the outlined points above. It doesn’t take forever (less than 45 minutes) and requires minimal gym equipment. Aim to complete it 2-4 times per week, depending on other commitments.

Format: Circuit

Total Time: 45 mins

Equipment: Med-ball, Kettlebell, 41 inch Power Band, GravityFit TPro

Rounds: 3 to 5

Rest between exercises: 10 secs

Rest between rounds: 90 secs

Exercise Guide Playlist (you can shuffle between videos)

Warm-Up

1 round, 30 secs each

Half-kneeling alternate reach

Windshield wiper

PNF diagonal pull-apart

T-Spine rotation with groin stretch

Quadruped rock backs

Bar hang

Cross connect march

Strength Circuit

Exercise 1 – Med-ball slam

Priority – power

Equip – med-ball

Reps – 10

Exercise 2 – Split Stance Turns

Priority – golf movement patterns

Equip – TPro

Reps – 10 each side

Exercise 3 – Kettlebell Swing

Priority – basic strength / conditioning

Equip – kettlebell

Reps – 20

Exercise 4 – Push Up with Band

Priority – basic strength

Equip – power band

Reps – 12

Exercise 5 – 1 Arm Row

Priority – basic strength

Equip – kettlebell

Reps – 10 each side

Exercise 6 – Pallof Press

Priority – basic strength

Equip – power band

Reps – 10 each side

Exercise 7 – Suitcase Carry

Priority – strength/ conditioning

Equip – kettlebell

Reps – 30 seconds each side

To progress simply aim to do more reps in the same time and/or increase the duration of each exercise and/or increase the number of rounds in each circuit and/or reduce the rest periods and/or increase the weight/load used.

This workout isn’t special or innovative or entertaining. But it is practical, and it is useful, and it will help to reduce and reverse the effects of “Dad Bod Syndrome.”

 

 

If you would like something more tailored to your specific needs, check out the training program options at Stronger Golf or Golf Fit Pro

For more information on the featured equipment, check out the links below:

Med-ball

Kettlebell

41 Inch Power Band

GravityFit TPro

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