GOLF MENTAL GAME COACHING TIPS BY DR. RICK SESSINGHAUS
Sometimes things don’t go well, right? One of the success principles is how do you bounce back after adversity. I want you to think of it as three components. The first one is called mental toughness, the second one is called resilience, and the third one is called grit.
They are related but they’re on different time tables. For instance, mental toughness is in the moment, things are not going well, how do you deal in the moment, right? Mental toughness is, again, how do you deal with adversity as it’s occurring. The first thing is you want to get back to what’s in your control. For some of us, if things are not going well, we get stressed, we get overwhelmed, we get panicked and then it’s hard for us to actually function. We have to regain that control. The first step of mental toughness is actually regaining control of your physiology, your actual body systems. You do that with breathing.
Breathing is going to be a rhythmic inhalation and exhalation that is equal but also consistent as you go. By now doing three or four rhythmic breaths, we now regain control of our mind-body connection. We can start to think clearly. Mental toughness now, first is to breathe.
Second thing is through self-talk. What are you saying to yourself? Many of us are beating ourselves up and stressing out about, “Oh my gosh, this is horrible”, instead of saying, “Okay, I’m going to call a timeout on myself. What’s in my control? What’s out of my control?” Start to ask better questions of the situation and start to think of things in more of a neutral way than just it’s bad. “Okay, I got this. I can do this. What’s my next step?” Part of the self-talk and good questions is identifying what’s the next step in this? What is under my control? Not 10 minutes from now, literally the next second, what’s the action that I need to take?
We can call those micro-goals. “Okay, I have a goal, I’m going to now, in exercise, take that next rep, take that next step, that’s all I can do. Make that next phone call, that’s all I can do.” Mental toughness is in the moment, we breathe, self-talk, identify what is our next goal. Also, and this is going to be for all three of these, is to be able to always connect with your why. Why am I doing what I’m doing? It keeps us motivated to move on. Because things are going bad, I better be motivated and keep on going. Mental toughness is in the moment.
Resilience is more of just, think about the event that has already occurred and it did not go well, yet you need to maybe do that same event the next day or the next day, so resilience is really bouncing back after the event has occurred. Same thing is that we want to have a proper evaluation of what occurred instead of just going, “Oh, I failed. This is horrible. I can’t do this.” That’s again, self-talk, is to now redirect and say, “What did I learn from that event? It did not go well. What’s in my control that I can change? What are some of the things I wasn’t prepared for?”
Then that can help us, again, get back on that horse and try again for the next day but resilience is now an attitude that is from day-to-day, week-to-week. Again, resilience has to tap into your why. Why is it important for you now to show up that next day?
The last area is grit. This is something that’s been now studied and there’s a great book on it, that grit is now a long term mental toughness. Think in terms of years and years and years. Somebody wants to go to medical school. Man, there’s a lot of tough hurdles, tough obstacles, yet, they do all of the years and years and years to get through that. If they had a long term vision, they were tied into it, motivationally, they were ready to go, and they were willing to sacrifice other things to make that occur.
Grit is long term, yet, you still use the short term breathing, self-talk, ask good questions, tapping into you why, no matter if it’s in the moment, if it just occurred, or if you’re in this for the long haul. Part of success is we already know we’re going to have obstacles and adversity. In the moment, it’s mental toughness, afterwards it’s resilience, and then for that long term, it’s grit.
All these skill sets are crucial for our golf mental game and way how to deal with any situation.
Do you have those skills? If you do, you’re going to succeed. If you don’t, you’re going to probably be stopping. You’re not going to pursue some of those things that are important to you. Remember, we’re performing every day. Let’s work on those golf mental game skills and perform for success.