Why you should be competitive / Improve golf performance / Flow Golf Podcast TV Episode #34

Improve golf performance

Rick I want to talk about competitiveness today and how to improve golf performance. I think it’s something that’s talked about a lot, but something that probably divides quite a few people’s opinions. But we know and we talk about it being an important flow trigger.

So I want to hear your opinion on competitiveness and whether it’s a valuable resource or skill that people can utilize in order to improve performance and also improve just their general life.

Yeah, and I think competitiveness is linked to wanting to win. Which inherently I think is a good thing. We want to have clear goals. We want them to be challenging. 

We want them to push you. So inherently, that is a flow trigger, by the way, having a clear goal that is challenging. Awesome. I think what people have kind of misunderstood is that if I go out to win a golf tournament, I’m playing against somebody.

I get that. But it’s really you who wants to get the best version of yourself. You’re competing against yourself for what’s the best version of myself that’s going to show up under pressure and show up to possibly win. I don’t want people to shy away from competitiveness. 

I think sometimes people think competitiveness means you’re comparing yourself with somebody and I’m okay with that and know that’s a totally different environment.

But I grew up in a very sports minded household. My dad was a football coach. You always are getting compared to making your skills better. Hey, Rick, you didn’t your footwork wasn’t good enough here. Look at, you know, back in the day. I mean, I don’t know if I forgot Joe Montana. Right. That’s dating myself with a football player.

Look at his footwork. Right? I’m comparing myself to the best of the best because I want to improve my skills. I think people, when they think comparison means, oh, I’m just not as good as them and oh, I’m never going to get as good as them. It’s like, No, no, no. We use it actually as a trigger for a growth mindset to go, Oh, that, that part I could get better at.

I remember as a golfer, I was 16 years old. I remember to this day I was a very average junior golfer. But one of the pros there I was working at a golf course showed me a flop shot for the first time and I’m going, holy smokes. One, I didn’t even know that existed. Okay, now this person is hitting this high, soft shot unbelievably well.

I go, I want to do that now. I’m comparing myself because I don’t know how to do it. That person’s doing. I compare it. There’s a performance gap. Okay. So I can’t say, well, they’re just so much better than me. I’m never going to get it. Yeah, okay. 

Well, that’s a fixed mindset. Good luck with life now. But if I say, wow, that’s something that I don’t have.

That’s a skill I don’t know. But I want to learn it. Oh, my gosh. And I remember spending all summer learning a flop shot. And man, that I scull some shots and I hit some junk shots and then I hit some beautiful shots. So now I took what was me competing against myself, going, wait, there’s a gap there that I could fill.

There’s something I can get better at. There’s something that’s me competing to be a better golfer. I need that skill and I’m learning it from somebody else. I’m comparing like, Wow, that person does it really, really well. 

Throughout history, you see what Tiger Woods has done. He elevated everybody’s skill sets because they go, Holy crap, he’s doing things much better than I am.

I better push the limits. I better get into the gym. I better do these things. So comparison can be a very healthy thing as long as you know, you can do something about it. Okay. So competitiveness is every single day. I want to be a better version of myself and I’m competing against myself. Why? Yeah. Maybe I want to win something.

I’m competing with other people and I’m drawn to the same goal. Fantastic. But we want to keep pushing your performance and how you do that is you always have to be saying, hey, I’m not as good as I need to be for this to get back to that goal of winning.

Absolutely. No, I love that. And I think that the key distinguishing here is that if you’re guiding light, if the main thing you’re focused on is creating the best version of yourself, then actually you’re competing with not against others or actually comparing against others as well. Is actually just a part of you creating a better version of yourself.

I think the problem that a lot of people have with the challenge a lot of people have is that they see that competition against someone else as their guiding thing. I need to beat them, and that’s the main thing I’m focused on. I need to win this tournament. That’s the main thing I’m focused on. 

Whereas actually the main thing should be I want to create the best version of myself and I see my competition with the people around me as an opportunity for me to get closer towards that best version.

I mean, we see it in so many different sports, right? We have been watching tennis recently. And so we’re kind of back at the end of September 20, 22. And I know Federer, Roger Federer has just retired from tennis and we saw the emotions between Nadal and Federer when he retired in the final kind of doubles match. They played together.

But I know that if you interview either of them, the reason there’s so much emotion there is because they both know that neither of them would be the level of tennis player if the other one hadn’t been competing with them. And that’s why I think he’s so powerful. When you look at top level athletes, they don’t look at that kind of I have to beat them and that’s all that I’m focused on.

They’re looking at becoming the best version and they know that that other athlete is a kind of resource or an opportunity to create a better version of themselves. So I think that’s so important for people to understand. And the only way you’re going to do that and you mentioned it, Rick, is to approach competition with a curious mindset rather than a critical one.

If you go into competition and you see what others are doing and you go, Hmm, interested okay, I’m I’m not able to do that yet, or that was impressive. I wish I could do that. You come in with a curious perspective. It’s so different from looking at the shot and going, Why can’t I hit that? Or Why am I?

I’m not good enough? Why am I not doing that yet? Why am I? And asking those questions is so different. And that’s what creates that negative comparison versus what we would call probably that positive comparison. 

Definitely. And again, I think it’s and again I’m curious by nature soul even with coaches like I’ll go to a coaching summit and stuff like that and and I’ll get this new information and go, Wow, that’s going to help me. I had a gap in my coaching, whether it was information or how you perceive it or how you deliver it.

Where I want everybody to keep up leveling their skills. I have learned from other people. Part of that is comparison. Wow. They do this differently than I do it. I think their version is better than mine. I’m going to take that right up and I’m going to steal it. Right. And there’s stories upon stories. Kobe Bryant kind of we’ll call it stealing stuff from Michael Jordan.

Michael Jordan stealing from Dr. Dre. Julius Erving. Great. It’s an evolution. But guess what? Everybody keeps up ticking. Better, better, better. 

The one thing that I wanted to talk about, competitiveness that I think is being lost is we do look at wanting to win a tournament, which inherently is fine, but not enough people are wanting to win that shot and be the best version of themselves for this specific moment when this moment when this shot, I think is overlooked, because the the goal of winning a tournament. 

Which is maybe two or three days, it gets lost instead of, wait, you want to be competitive, win this shot, be the best for it.

See that shot with clarity, hit that. That to me is where we talk about flow personality is we know flow follows focus. And if I’m completely immersed in that moment, completely engaged and intentional with that shot, I’m winning. I am because I am fully in that moment. Now, that shot might go to two feet, might go to 40 feet, fine.

But in that moment, I’m that moment.

Absolutely no. I mean, if we and we talk about competitiveness being a flow trigger, right. There can only be a flow trigger if you’re focused on what’s in that present moment. 

So if you’re competitive about the golf tournament, you’re already into the future. Whereas if you’re competitive with that shot that’s right in front of you, ultimately you’re in the present moment and you’re stepping into flow.

So I think that’s such an important thing to remember just going back to and I want to share a story because it just popped into my mind. But remember having a conversation with Paul Lawrie and Paul Lawrie sharing a conversation that he had or a situation he faced when he was playing, just started on the European tour.

That was back then. Obviously now a DP World tour and him and his friends and a common who is where. The thing was Gabriel, they were sitting on a bench and Seve was hitting some bunker shots just, just behind them and they were looking in wow. They were watching him hit these bank shots and I couldn’t believe it.

And Paul actually had the guts to say, Gary, I’m going to go and ask it. I’m going to go and ask him how he’s doing it, walk up, and ask him the questions. And I remember saying to me and he’s he’s he’s a bit older now. And he said, I still use that same information that the TV gave me.

I still use it to this day. And the problem is that so many people would look at Seve and go, Oh, why can’t I hit big shots like that? Oh, I’m not good enough to hit long shots like that. Critical hole took a curious perspective. You know what? I’m going to go and ask him, how does he play that shot?

Because I know that that’s going to be a useful resource, useful information for me to create my next best version. And that, I think, is exactly the perfect story to explain what we talked about, where our guiding light needs to be. Can you become the best version of yourself and essentially the people around you? Your competitors can become resources.

Maybe it sounds a bit mean, but they can become resources to create that best version of yourself. And I think that’s so powerful to remember.

Yeah. And just to kind of go back to the start of the conversation, competitiveness in itself for a future event is fine, everybody. It does spark discipline, it sparks motivation, it sparks work ethic because we have this goal that we’re really pursuing. That’s wonderful. And I would continue to want to push yourself for long term goals, short term goals, but now in the moment, goals.

And I think when we bring competitiveness, there is a different intensity, which is again great, but again, where is the intensity being driven towards? And we want it to drive it towards the present moment. We want to use that spark to help us pay attention to what’s going on at that moment. 

So competitiveness, long term, wonderful. I think that helps us with long term discipline and habits and stuff that we’ve talked about on another podcast.

But really taking that same intensity to a shot by shot basis is a skill.

Absolutely. And just from a coach, because we may have some coaches listening to this. Rick, I know one of your kind of key coaching philosophies is to take the golfer out onto the golf course. And I know another big part is that you compete with them sometimes, right? But you say like right end of end of the session, like, let’s go.

So could you talk a bit about that? Because I think we’ve spoken about competitiveness from the golf standpoint. I also think from a coach standpoint, we need to understand that competitiveness can be so valuable in bringing focus into the present moment. And we can do that through various ways in sessions.

Yeah. So bringing competition within a coaching session, one is, is a lot of fun for me as a coach. So one, I’m very engaged, right. And I always find it interesting when I enter for the first time, let’s say I have of course students I work with every week and they know I’m going to compete against them.

But that first time we’re having new students and I say, hey, you and I are going to compete. And what their first reaction is very important and it’s very telling. So I’ve had and I work with a lot of competitive juniors, so let’s say I have a 16 year old, they’re a good player and I say, hey, we’re going to compete.

Host to the hall now I have had some that go that’s not fair. You’re a professional though to do that. And I go, Oh crap, this is not good because they’re not embracing the challenge, not being competitive. Then I have other people go, Okay, oh man, I’m not close to that yet. And I go, Great. I got somebody who’s got some trash talking.

I got somebody who wants to beat me. To me, that shows me, how are you embracing the competitive side? Because you’re going to go out and play in a tournament and you’re going to have somebody who makes three birdies in a row and you’re going to have somebody where you see your leader, but as you’re going down, you make a couple of bogeys.

Being competitive is still wanting to be in that situation. So part of competition for me in coaching is one to see what your attitude is about it in the first place. Then I certainly want to see how they compete and how they perform. Maybe They actually enhance their performance. By the way, Everybody is great.

This now matters. This means something. I’m going to pay attention more and I go, That’s great, but you need to take that same intensity to more shots day in and day out. And so I use it as a learning tool also if they play really, really well in this competition. I then want to link and anchor that state.

So they use it more often and I want them to embrace me greatly. I’m ready for this and stuff. So I love competing for many, many, many reasons. And then sometimes I actually win and I feel good about myself too.

Never, ever go. But your self esteem is not built upon results, right? Not purely off of results. So there we go. But no, I mean, this is so important. I know some kind of part of our flow code framework. We talk about four different flow channels. We talk about cognitive, we talk about sensory, we talk about environment. But the final one we speak about is social.

Social flow. And a key part of social flow is group balance, group challenge and ensuring that we are competing, that competitiveness can help us create a flow environment within various people. So I think it’s so important to understand the value of it and not to kind of diminish it because of this potential negative comparison that can be created if we approach it with the wrong mindset.

So whenever you all catch if you catch yourself and you find yourself getting critical about where you are compared to others, just remind yourself to flip to curious and to start asking questions about how you can utilize the information you’re seeing, i.e. what other people are doing to create that next best version of yourself. 

And that way it can become so much more valuable rather than detrimental.

Exactly. And I think the last piece that I’ll say is that competitiveness in a flow state is that we are constantly wanting to challenge somebody a little bit more and a little bit more. So when you set up your practice sessions or maybe you’re competing against somebody in a practice session, start to just escalate the challenge a little bit more, a little bit more, a little bit more.

It will push your skill sets now. Right. And we’re pushing our boundaries there. But, you know, sometimes in a coaching session, I will purposely create too big of a challenge for somebody which may create anxiety, may create worry. 

I want to say, okay, how are we going to handle this? Right. So that’s something that I know you and I will talk about in the future is practice and challenge versus skills balance and so on and so forth.

But basic challenge versus skills is taking on a challenge and then believing you have the skills to match that. And I think the best way to do that is in a competitive mindset.

Definitely. Definitely. Well, that’s another episode done. Thank you all for listening. A really interesting one and excited for the next one that we decided to cover.

Improve golf performance / FlowCode Golf Academy
Why you should be competitive / Improve Golf performance / Flowcode golf academy
Why you should be competitive / Golf performance / Flowcode golf academy