“The game follows the mind, not the mind follows the game.” Notah Begay III, a golf reporter for the Golf Channel and ex-tour player, made this wise remark in regards to the mental preparation tour golfers work on to stay focused and overcome mental challenges.
Bethpage Black is long, tough, and has penalizing roughs. The general consensus was that winning score would be just under par for the PGA Championship. From a defensive mindset, players went out to survive this brutal course. But, not Brooks Koepka. He shot 63 in the first round.
From a mindset perspective, one thing is to respect the challenges ahead of us. It is very different when we have a defensive mental attitude. This is commonly illustrated when we talk about a glass half full. Where is your focus, on the half with milk or the empty have?
Before a match, athletes tend to overly focus on the opponent and, consequently, mentally psyche themselves out if they perceive they are on the losing end.
Jack Nicklaus won a record 18 majors due to their opponents’ poor mental preparation. He perceived them as being intimidated by the course conditions even before the tournament started. Instantly, the number of real challengers dwindled from 110 players to maybe 10.
Conversely, we have witnessed many highly favorite athletes losing against weak opponents. Rather than being really focused on the game, the mind already celebrated a win before the match started.
Where your mind goes, your game follows.
- Use your mindset to your advantage. Nobody can really see your mental attitude, but will witness it based on your competitive behavior;
- Reframe the nervous arousal as a positive energetic charge rather than a debilitating sign;
- When in doubt, envision your ideal performance and embrace it.