A collection of quotes from some of the key thinkers in performance. The goal of this article is to provoke some thoughts on how best to develop the all important mindset needed in the game of golf. Whilst developing technique is important, it won’t ever be enough without the developing the mental game along side it.
It might be that one of the toughest mental hurdles that developing golfers have to overcome is understanding that extreme language so often hinders the ability to perform. “I must”… “I have to”‘…and “It will be a disaster if”…
“Id like to” is probably enough.Daniel Abrahams
Daniel Abrahams is a leading sports psychologist helping players develop the mental side of the game since 2002. Currently the lead sports psychologist for England Golf.
Turn “I must win”, into “I’d Like to win”. Turn “I have to perform” into “It’d be great to perform”.
Rigid, fixed and extreme thoughts around sport can feel like the kind of thoughts a competitor should have. This is untrue! Thinking this way will more likely hinder than help.Daniel Abrahams
Developing a productive language and self talk is critical.
The paradox of ambition in sport: the more you want to succeed, the further away you may get. Why? Because ambition can make you anxious, and anxiety can kill performance. The champions, the very best, want to succeed. But they hit the sweet spot between intensity and relaxation.Danial Abrahams
Its great to want to play your best, but don’t get in your own way out there, direct the focus on things within your control. The preparation, the acceptance of good and bad shots. Results are not something within anyone’s control. There are too many variables. Instead focus on progression rather than perfection. Focus on process more than the outcome. The results will follow..
Sport isn’t always fair. You can practice and prepare for long hours and still fall short. You can stick to the game plan and compete with a great mindset, yet still lose. That’s sport…unpredictable. But to be a great competitor this is something you have to accept!Daniel Abrahams
Developing and managing expectations whether its in practice or competing is a non negotiable for a great mental game. Accept that the game of golf is full of difficulty and uncertainty, that’s great! Create a ‘Bring it on’ attitude.
When you compete, never expect to win and never expect to lose. Never expect to perform well and never expect to perform badly. Always expect to manage your mindset. Always expect to own and dominate your mind and body.Daniel Abrahams
Control the controllable’s.
Golfers may do well to mentally contrast before a game. What is this?
Simple: “The game is going to be really tough with some brutal moments. I may hit some C and D shots…the weather may turn. My putting may be off. Ok, so how am I going to deal with each challenge?”Daniel Abrahams
Starting a tournament prepared and ready for the tough challenges that lie ahead is far better than hoping that everything will go well. Be ready for all the inevitable tough days and challenges. This is effectively ‘managing your expectations’. A key skill to develop. Just as important as the Trackman data or what the top of your backswing looks like.
You always hold the rights to your effort, but never to your results. Results are entitled to no one. At best, they are on loan and must be renewed each day. All you own is the right to try.James Clear
James Clear is the author of the wildly successful book ‘Atomic Habits’. If its not in your kindle library, it needs to be! Incredible resource when working towards developing new skills and habits in any walk of life.
The secret to winning is learning how to lose. That is, learning to bounce back from failure and disappointment undeterred and continuing to steadily march towards your potential. Your response to failure determines your capacity for success.James Clear
A superpower for any golfer is the ability to react well to poor outcomes, even when it seems unfair. No matter how many hours we practice, golf never owes us anything in return. Keep going and enjoy the challenge. The ability to respond well to a poor outcome, enables us to create more successful ones! Like a surfer or a skateboarder celebrates the crashes, shout ‘Wipeout!’ and get up and go again!
Aim to be great in 10 years.
Long term thinking is a secret weaponJames Clear
Build technical foundations that lead to a great golf swing in 10 years. Why long term thinking? With any development, its difficult in the beginning, maybe its a grip change, a new movement of the torso or pelvis or maybe an enhanced way of thinking. If we always aim to be great tomorrow the chances of building the new habit is greatly diminished. However if we aim to be great in 10 years, we give ourselves the time and chance to build strong foundations that last a life time.
With golf, its important to zoom out and look at development over a long period of time. The inconsistent nature of the sport means things can vary day by day, this could be a 10-20 shot difference from tournament to tournament. (This is normal) Zoom out, build a long term vision and stay the course.
I rarely set myself goal of ‘I want to win this and to win that’ because all of these goals are just a by-product of doing little things right, and I’m a big believer in that. If you get the little things right day after day and you practice good habits, the rest will follow.Rory Mcilroy
32 professional wins worldwide and counting, I think this quote speaks for itself.
Golf is full of disappointments. If you win 5% of your tournaments, you’re a hall of famer. So, plenty of disappointment in golf. Get used to it.Brooks Koepka
With well managed expectations, you’ll see all the disappointments as an opportunity to learn. A key characteristic in ‘Growth Mindset’ players. There is no failure, only feedback.
We love everything about junior golf, except when winning tournaments becomes more important than the golfer’s development and enjoyment. Play a bunch of sports, develop athleticism, nurture a passion for golf, and most importantly, prioritize fun.TPI
The Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) are world leaders in golf fitness, golf health and junior development. Their opinion on long term development for junior golfers shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“70% of kids walk away from the sport by age 13”. This is a statistic from junior golf in America. With golf being a late specialization sport. The key is staying in the game for long enough to find true potential. This means that sustainable habits are paramount. More isn’t always better. Keep it fun out there. Golf is hard.
I hope this article has been helpful and thought provoking. The mental game is a huge part of the game. Developing it is just as important as developing the backswing.
Put yourself and the golfer in your life in the best place possible to allow for maximum enjoyment and the most amount of possibility for success. Whatever success means for you, or them.