Eat Your Vegetables
You know the old saying right? It is one that your parents have told you since you were young. It goes something like, “eat your vegetables, they are good for you.” Well, sports psychology produces similar reactions when applied to golfers. You ask golfers what they are working on and they will undoubtedly tell you about their swing, fitness schedule, or they are not working on anything because they are out specifically to drink beer with their buddies. However, if you ask a golfer what they do to strengthen their mental game they may say something like, “oh I visualize the shot I want to hit, then I hit it.” What does that even mean? It is a vague description at best. In reality, golfers compare sports psychology to the vegetables they should eat. They know that those vegetables are good for them, but come on, when dessert is on the table, who actually eats their vegetables?
As I continue to write my doctoral dissertation about psychological concepts that improve golf performance I can’t help but wonder why more golfers don’t practice psychology or implement it into their game? Seriously, it seems as though there are mountains of information that suggest various psychological skills and emotion regulation strategies that improve the performance of golfers. Not only am I convinced that psychology enhances golfing performance, but it can be attributed to the success of golfers. Don’t believe me? Watch any post-round interview of professional golfers and they will mention some type of psychological concept that helped them succeed during their round. Greg Norman has even gone on record stating he should have worked with an expert in mental skills in order to prepare for pressure-filled situations. So why aren’t golfers accepting sport or performance psychology as valid means to enhance their performance?
Recently, it dawned on me that people may not be able to physically see the results from psychology like they can from a physical perspective. It makes sense now right? You work with a golf fitness trainer and you can see your body change and you might gain some distance off of the tee. Boom, visible results! You work with a Yoga instructor and now you are more flexible and you notice a change in your golf swing. Again the results are visible. A golfer who works with a swing instructor develops a high draw rather which in turn fixes that identity crisis known as a slice. You guessed it, the results are visible. A golfer who works with a psychologist to improve their game can attribute their successes to the physical rather than the psychological. Now the results are not visible. Bottom line, golfers will not buy into what they cannot see.
Another factor that goes against golfers not implementing psychology is that it lacks sex appeal. I know that we can go many different places with the term sex, but let’s be honest, psychology just isn’t sexy. Could you imagine one golfer saying to the other in a flirtatious tone, “oh I really like how your left frontal lobe reacted to your pre-shot routine.” Did that do it for you? I study psychology and it didn’t even do it for me. If it did do it for you then you are in the minority, not the majority. It is much sexier to workout, make videos for your social media platforms, and get a bunch of comments from friends and followers. At the same time, it is nice to be admired for hitting a high cut into a tucked back pin, now that’s sexy! The golf industry is gaining in sex appeal. Just look at different trends in clothing, club design, social media accounts, and even PXG owner Bob Parsons claims his brand is the sexiest on the market. As for psychology, it just hasn’t kept up with the visual appeal golfers tend to be craving. However, if you want to win and perform well, then I am convinced you need the psychological component embedded all throughout your game.
So let’s get one thing straight, I am not advocating for people to stop working out or to stop practicing the physical part of their game. Please, keep working out and keep working on your game with the professionals you trust so that you reach your goals. All I am saying is that if you are not incorporating psychology into your golf game then you are not fulfilling your potential as a golfer. How about we put a number on it? One-third, there I said it. Physical fitness and working on the physical part of your game adds up to be two-thirds of your game. You are only 66% (roughly) of a golfer and that is only if you fulfill that 66%. When you implement psychology into your game you will watch it go places you never thought possible.
Here is how I can help. I realize people like results that is why I teach those I work with my 5 pillars of athletic success. They are strength, toughness, optimism, mentality, and preparation (STOMP). Embedded within each of STOMPs five pillars are psychological skills and strategies that are all geared toward improving golf performance. Best of all is that you get to see the results within all 5 pillars, meaning, psychological results pertaining to golf performance now become visible. I wish I could explain that process here, but come on, a guy can’t give away his secrets from which he wishes to make a living.
I want to start a new trend in golf. My vision for this trend blends psychology in with the already physical and visual appeal that golfers crave. I want golfers to experience the joy of playing well and I know psychology, combined with physical efforts, can make that happen. So consider taking the advice of Ben Crenshaw when he stated, “I’m about five inches from being an outstanding golfer. That’s the distance my left ear is from my right.” So, have I convinced you to eat your vegetables?
To get in touch and learn more about Michael, visit his site at athleticconsultingmk.com