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Competitiveness | Flow Golf Podcast TV | Rick Sessinghaus & Hallam Morgan | Best Golf Mental Game Coaching Tips

Flow Golf Podcast TV Episode 17 – Competitiveness

Welcome back, our listeners, to the Flow Golf podcast and learning about the best golf mental game coaching tips. Rick, I’m so excited to discuss what is in some sense an important flow trigger competitiveness. We don’t often speak about it. Sometimes we get a little bit careful about speaking about competitiveness and comparison and stuff like that. 

But I wanted to discuss that today on today’s podcast. Could you share a little bit of information, some stories maybe about competitiveness, how you define it and how you say it can be valuable for people of all levels?

Yes. And I think you just mentioned it. It’s a word that I think is getting diluted throughout the last ten years. I grew up in a very competitive household with sports and even academics and competitiveness as I grew up there was certainly about winning and losing. You went to a a football game and if you lost, you lost.

And it was a very simple, clear, definite mission of winning and losing. I think throughout the last, like I said, ten to 15 years here in the States, I think that’s been diluted a little bit because it’s now been a little bit politically correct to not really shine too much light on the winner and oh my gosh, the loser, we got to take care of them and stuff like that.

And I get that at an early, early age. You’re not just going to beat down that. The only success is driven through winning or losing. The issue, though, is to me competitiveness has always led to improvement. So if I looked at myself and I said I just lost that football game or I just shot 78 and junior tournament and I lost, I first looked at was that the best version of me out there?

Did I do my best? And sometimes that answer is no, I did not. I made a mistake here. I threw an interception here. I had two, three putts. I believe that’s a very powerful question to just say, hey, there is now a gap that I can shrink, a performance gap, I call it, that I can get better at and not to gloss it over.

It’s like, well, you don’t always win you don’t. And I think we have to be careful of, just like I said, diluting the competitiveness of pushing ourselves. To me, competitiveness is about adding challenges, taking on challenges from an internal view first. Certainly there’s external competitiveness. Did I win or lose? Totally get that. I’m looking at it from a standpoint of was I better today than I was yesterday?

And that could be through a score. It also could be what you and I talk a lot about with the different processes of, Hey, I committed to 80% of my shots today. I stayed composed today. To me, that’s a level of competitiveness. I want to be better today. Then I was yesterday. And I think it’s fine to want to compete and want to win.

I think that’s, you know, in the United States, I think that’s what built a lot of our success as a country is to push the limits and get better back to kind of golf. And something that I admired with Colin Morikawa for all these years is as a young junior, part of my coaching was always to compete with him at the end of a lesson and end of a session.

And it might be close to the hole for a chip shot or a pot or, hey, who can hit the straightest drive or whatever that may be? And again, at the age of eight, ten, 12, 14. What most impressed me about him is he took on the competitor, the competition and it wasn’t in a, in a, in a big, grandiose way.

It’s just like, Hey, Colin, close to the hole, let’s go. And it’s like, OK. And it was very simple. He wanted to take on the challenge. He believed he could beat me. And whether he did or not was almost irrelevant at the moment. It’s taking that challenge on which sparks focus, which sparks creativity, which sparks childlike, which a lot of the, you know, flow triggers that you and I talk about.

It was already built into this idea of competing. And he took it on at a very early age. And as you can see to this day on the PGA Tour, he loves to compete. It is a way for him to stay focused and push himself. And again, pushing ourselves is a good thing. Let’s get better than we were yesterday.

So that’s how I look at being competitive now.

I love that. I love that. And obviously, the biggest priority of all performers is to become their best version. And you say you see it as a common skill or common trait across a lot of successful athletes, especially those at the top level of that game. I remember hearing the story of Kobe Bryant and another NBA clerk, Jay Williams.

He’s actually Jay Williams telling the story, but he was in there prepping for a match and he’s there like really going through the gates, really putting in some work here. And he notes he’s actually Kobe there as well as Kobe Bryant’s there before it. 

And they both present in the both frankly, Jay’s obviously this Jay Williams is kind of very conscious of, you know what, I want to make sure that I’m putting the work in and Kobe sees I’m putting the work in.

Jay Williams finishes and Kobe continues not for an extra 10 minutes, not for an extra 20 minutes, not for an extra 30 an extra hour, hour and a half full plate crop, a full plate. And Jay went and asked him after the game, he said, Why did you do that? Because I saw you come in. I saw you were there, and I wanted you to know that no matter how hard you work, I’m willing to work harder.

Now, I think the thing here is Kobe’s not that he’s not competing compared to Jay, but he actually utilized Jay Williams to compete. He used him to say, look, I’m not actually trying to do me versus Jay. I’m actually trying to still improve myself. I’m doing it with the support of Jay without him even realizing it. And I think that’s a really important comparison.

It’s something that I remember hearing in various interviews from Missy and Renaldo and the relationship between them in the football world, in the soccer world, and saying, well, actually, they’re really grateful for each other because they’re not sure either of them will have reached the level they did if it hadn’t been for the other person. And I think that’s something that’s how I view competitiveness anyway, is it’s very much a me versus me situation.

But with you versus you. So if I try to compete with you, I’m actually trying to compete against myself. I’m competing with you in support of you. To ensure that we both move forward. And that’s part of the common understanding. And the common desire in that relationship is that we both want to improve. We both want to get better.

And we want to support each other in that endeavor. So I see that is really important. And we actually saw that right at the Masters on the tape with probably Colin and Roy.

Yeah. And you bring up a very good point that if you talk to these elite performers and ask them, you know, about their competition, they want their competition to play really, really well so they can push themselves to say, hey, is my best better than their best. Yeah. 

And it keeps spiraling up, spiraling up to where you say Wow, I pushed myself because that person was at their best and that brought them the best out of me and my focus and so on and so forth.

And yeah, being at the Masters this year and being in the final round and seeing and seeing Collin and Rory paired together and just feeding off of each other. Right. They have mutual respect for each other. They enjoy watching each other play to a point.

But when somebody is playing better than you or scoring better than you, if you’re competitive, you go, Well, wait a second, no, I’m going to beat you.

Right. And so there was a very give, give and take during that round where, you know, Rory makes an eagle on 13 and Collin puts an eagle right on top of them. They make the birdies, they get into 18. Rory hit this unbelievable bunker shot that goes in yellow. Collin celebrates it. Hey, that was awesome. And yet there by the bed, OK, but now it’s my turn and he now puts it on top and then they both celebrate and you, you saw not only the best performance, but you saw them as a person come out and you’re celebrating greatness.

You’re celebrating that high level. Yet you did want to be at your best. You did. You weren’t distracted by somebody else’s play. In fact, you used it as fuel, you used it as a way to focus, to say, wait a second, awesome. Look what he did. OK, let’s go with that. And I think that’s obviously a positive way to go about it. And they did that throughout the entire round, which was beyond fun to watch.

Absolutely. I think I think really the top performers understand that actually competitors are sometimes they’re allies, not necessarily their enemies. Right. Because as you said, that relationship was very much a I want to perform my best with you.

I don’t want to perform my best at the detriment of your performance, because everyone knows that if both of them are performing great, all of a sudden there’s some great competition there.

And that’s where special things start to start to appear. So I completely agree with that. I love it. And it actually brings in a lot of the stuff we speak about a golf mental game coaching, which is one of the essential channels of flow, which is social flow, right? There’s so many components there but for them to have the same goal, they both want to achieve the same thing.

Actually, some communication going between some shared communication skills between the two of the night. They’re both passionate about the same things, and that really brings out high levels of performance.

No question. And I think we’ve all seen it in golf where the group you’re playing with could affect your performance. Now, we have to be careful of that because we can’t always, you know, sign up with our best friends on a beautiful day and all the different things in the environment. Yet as a competitor, can I look at who I’m playing with and use that as a flow trigger? I got to play yesterday with some dear friends of mine and you, and they’re good players.

So you have a good player and they hit a good shot. You go, OK, that’s great. I congratulate you, but I want to be part of this too. And then there’s the fun and there’s the banter and those types of things that could change our state. Right? If I’m having fun and trash talking and those types of things, I’m going to be in a different state than if I’m with players I don’t like.

And oh, my gosh, they’re so they’re etiquette, right? That wasn’t my skill set. But it is getting affected by who I’m playing with. And we call that kind of social flow, right? How do we connect with people? How do we, you know, use this as a positive focal point instead of a distraction?

Definitely. And I think some people would say and definitely my perspective on it, but some people would say that competing against others can be beneficial. And I don’t disagree, but I believe it’s more of a short term benefit rather than a long term benefit. So if it’s me competing against not competing with Rick, but against Rick, I believe I can have some short term gain from that.

But I don’t believe it’s sustainable when it’s me competing against me. All of a sudden, I believe that’s when it’s long term and that’s when it becomes sustainable. That’s when it becomes so much more beneficial for my long term development. So that’s kind of my view on that. But when it comes to competitive competitiveness, Rick, there’s different ways of, I guess, expressing that competitiveness.

Right? And I guess every single person needs to understand how they express that competitiveness. So I know you’ve mentioned a couple of times that Colin and various other players that you work with, it’s not always this massive external kind of competitive based, like I’m going to beat you and it’s vocal and it’s but sometimes it can be quite internal.

So I just wanted you to talk a bit about your perspective on expressing competitiveness and people understanding actually how to do that.

Right. And I think everybody has different personalities. So this is not saying one size fits all, but I think it’s you and I talk about mindset a lot. And for the listeners out there, how are they going to define being competitive within themselves? Right. I want to go to this round of golf and how am I going to be competitive now?

Some people will just look at it from a score standpoint, oh, I want to shoot blank. And if that means I beat them, then I win that’s fine. That’s very much the numbers game. I get it. You and I talk about a little deeper of the competitiveness of maybe trying a new shot for the day or seeing how focused I can be.

Maybe I can get creative with my visualization and how sharp can I get that visualization right. So we’re now creating our own level of metrics that we can compete against ourselves to me has been the most powerful way to get improvement. OK, there’s certainly external competitiveness, which I think is a positive. There’s no question about that.

We mentioned that yet when we look at it, we’re going to go step to the first tee and after 18 holes, how will I know I was a better version? How will I know that I competed against myself? That day and one OK, and those are the processes you and I talk about. That’s like being proud of bouncing back after a double bogey.

Those are those little intangibles that add up. And you look back and go, Wow, I was better today. I was more resilient. I was antifragile, I was focused even. There was a lot of stuff going on on the golf course. To me, that is a level of competitiveness because there’s a challenge out there. We set ourselves up to succeed in those challenges, to push ourselves to record.

So obviously and for all levels of golfers and some of the many top players that I’ve seen inside our platform and those that aren’t is coming up to the beginning of the season or the season’s just started and it just be all at your standard club golf. For anyone listening, it’s coming up to warmer weather. Well, here in the UK it is anyway.

California, it’s warmer, we are coming up to warmer weather. So people are starting to get their clubs out and we have what is opt in, maybe a little bit of competitive rust sometimes. 

We haven’t played that much recently. We haven’t been in those competitive environments. What are some of the ways that you would suggest players of all levels can start to regain that competitive edge as they come into the season?

That’s a good point. I’m going to answer a couple of different ways. One, I think you and I will talk about this on Future Podcast but expectations, right? So let’s say last season, at the end of last season, I was playing really, really well. 

My index was down and a lot of good things were happening. And then now because of the weather and because of the off -season, you don’t play as much.

OK, so it’s obvious I’m not playing as much, practicing as much. The skills would probably be affected. OK, that’s true. Right. But I think the challenge for people is when the competitiveness is just with score and yes, there’s going to be rust on the physical skills they’ll just say, oh, OK. And they’ll either get really mad when they don’t play well.

The first part of the season, which is now there, their expectations aren’t met. So that’s frustrating but I think what you and I are looking at is I don’t believe we can be as rusty competitiveness as you would think I think if you have an intention day in and day out to go to the gym and push yourself at the gym, you’re being competitive.

And I think you’d go do your mindfulness meditations daily and you do the 10 minutes that you didn’t want to do, but you did it anyway. To me, that’s competitiveness. Then you go to the golf course. 

It’s just who you are, and that’s become part of that. You take on challenges and stuff like that. Your physical skills may be rusty, you may not, your short game may not be as sharp because you just haven’t done it over the season.

But I’m a big believer that every day you can be competitive with yourself and then bring that out to the first tee of it.

Competitiveness becomes a habit almost. And I think that we’ll obviously speak about this in a later podcast. But speaking about the difference between the human and the athlete or actually the similarity between the human and the athlete and making sure that you apply these things in all aspects of your life, because then it becomes part of your identity, becomes part of just who you are.

So if you’re competitive in the gym against your latest piece, if you’re competitive, as you say, in making sure that you show up even when you’re in a critique, says, I don’t want you to do that, this isn’t going to be nice, this isn’t going to be enjoyable, you get in that cold shower and you stay in that cold, cold shower.

You’re competing against yourself every single day, and it becomes a habit. And we know obviously as you stack those habits, it becomes part of your identity. So I think that’s absolutely huge and a really important component of building competitiveness. I love it.

And so when people look at competitiveness, again, there is a winning and losing. You and I are very much into habits and tracking that. And so you can now look at like in golf you know, somebody we’re not going to make all of our ten footers. We’re going to make a high. We want to make a higher percentage.

But to me, we want to get a little bit better every single day. And tracking those things I think is important or at least journal rising. Hey, did I do the things I said I was going to do? And I think that helps not only our competitiveness, but as we’ve talked about in past interviews, and we will talk in future about confidence.

Right. Confidence also comes from doing the things you say you’re going to do whether it’s at the highest, highest level or not if you now are congruent with who you want to be. And I just think competitiveness is giving yourself a little bit of a push. I think the last thing I want to talk about is competitive.

Doesn’t mean you put your goals out there that are too big, too early. You know, some of the research that I’ve read is if I can push a player one to 4% outside of their current comfort zone or skills, they’re more likely one to be focused. And two, there’s a belief like, yeah, I think I can do it, but it’s got to push myself.

And so these incremental changes, incremental competitive goals, I think is crucial to where we start a season of golf, right? Everybody goes, Oh, my gosh, I’m going to do this, I do this. And they get very, very excited, which is awesome. But it blows them out of the water in the first week because they just haven’t done the incremental changes.

So that’s my last little thing that I want people to do is competitive. It doesn’t mean you say you’re going to win the U.S. Open next year. It means how can I get a little bit better today than I was yesterday?

I love that. And equally, I’m not going to try and compete with Mile and play against Collimore, let’s be honest. But it comes down to bringing the conversation of environment and associations into play, being very conscious about who you’re spending time with and all of the right competitors in order to help you both become your best version.

We spoke about Messi versus Ronaldo and we spoke about Kobe versus Jay Williams. But ultimately, they’re very close in terms of their level. They’re both hugely high performers, and they push each other to be their best. But the reason they push each other to be the best is because they know both on their best day they can be better than one another.

It’s always this kind of back and forth. And I think that’s something that’s really important on the competitiveness side. To create this ideal competitive environment, we need to ensure that we’re matching ourselves and spending time with those that create that environment for competitiveness. 

They don’t create that environment of too much kind of I would say detrimental comparison where there’s a huge gap between the two of you.

And then one person feels a little bit demotivated. You actually do one and it comes, I guess, back to talking about flow and talking about the challenge versus skills balance, right? Making sure that your skills both match one another because then we know the challenge is going to be just about right to get you both into that flow zone.

So I think that’s vital.

Yeah. And I think again, the key word is challenge. You know, you on our platform, you’ve done a great job. We have this 21 day challenge. It’s called a 21 day challenge, right? So each day you’re challenging that golfer to become a better version and to compete against themselves and to and then by 21 days they look back and they go, Wow, I accomplished a lot.

And it was all these little things that added up and I think that’s what we want from our students and our clients. I’m a big believer in that a golfer will start to self coach themselves. That’s a good thing that takes ownership to accountability. 

You certainly want to get information and knowledge from experts like you and me yet I want them to be able to get up in the morning and go, Man, I can’t wait to do this right.

To me, that’s the competitiveness. That is what I’m searching for with players. Yes, it’s easy to say, hey, I’m going against this person. I want to beat them. Awesome. Good. But I am a big believer in the internal competitiveness of day of the day.

Love it. Love it. Rick, pleasure as always. Really enjoyed that podcast. Speaking about competitiveness and how we can both train it to some extent and then also leverage it for our benefit to create our best version. So thanks again. Thanks for listening and we’ll catch you soon Rick. Pleasure. As always. 

Learn about golf mental game coaching with FlowCode Golf Academy / Flow Golf Podcast with Rick Sessinghaus & Hallam Morgan - Episode 17
Learn about golf mental game coaching with FlowCode Golf Academy / Flow Golf Podcast with Rick Sessinghaus & Hallam Morgan – Episode 17
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