De-Mystify the Mental Game

By David BreslowFebruary 22, 2006, 5:00 pm
The phrase most people use is The Mental Game. Over the years, Ive polled athletes from different sports and 90% believe a mental game is important yet less than 12% of them actually develop it on a formal basis. I wondered why that was.
After posing this question, here are the most common responses:
I dont need to be psychoanalyzed
I can work it out. I just need more practice
I dont really know how to go about it
Interesting. If 90% believe its important yet spend 12% (or less) of their time developing it, its real clear why they are not performing up to their potential.
Most of my clients admit they dont have a real clear picture of what a mental game is or how to go about developing it. Most read books or articles and try to apply the tips they hear or read. While this can be a great course of action, many report that the tips tend to lead to sporadic changes. I welcome these people because one of the first things I want to do is completely de-mystify the entire notion of what is commonly called a mental game.
I believe what we call the mental game is made up of 4 undeniable elements and I call them The 4 Quads of Energy and Performance. These Quads include your mind, body, emotions and spirit. Every time you put your hands on a golf club all 4 of these elements are in play because you cannot separate them. Clients have tried but in the end find it impossible. We all have a different view of how much of the game is mental. When I pose this question to coaching clients and in presentations I hear responses ranging from 15% to 90%. Based on the 4 Quad involvement, I believe it to be 100%. Why? Again, because all 4 elements are in play any time you put the club in your hands and there is no way around it. In my opinion the mental game is not a side component of your performance; it has everything to do with it. I find that so many clients struggle far more than necessary when trying to get out of their own way to improve performance.
There is nothing mysterious about the mental game. How clients make it difficult is trying to apply the mounds of information, models and concepts that often confuse and cloud the issue. The 4 Quads function via very precise laws and principles whether we are aware of it or not. These principles/laws operate in everyone regardless of talent level, age, gender or personality type. One of my favorite sayings is: Models and theories come and go but the principles never change. They have always been influencing our game and always will. I inform my clients they already have the tools they need. You do too. You already have a mind, body, emotions and spirit dont you? These elements are your tools and when they dont function together you create the opportunity to under perform. When they do function together you will create the opportunity to perform your best more consistently.
Think about the zone state. In my opinion, it is the alignment of the 4 Quads that creates the experience we have when in the zone. We feel calmer, more centered, focused and welcome all challenges because we know we will move through them with ease. There is no over thinking or over trying. Its not a mystery. When we learn to align the 4 Quads this is often the experience. Im not suggesting that you will experience the ultimate Peak Zone state every time but you will achieve a much higher performance state when the Quads are in alignment.
Heres another metaphor: A finely tuned racing engine has elite parts in it. When these parts connect well with each other the car performs at a high level. When they dont, the car under performs; losing energy, power and stamina. In addition, one part tends to over work to make up for the imbalance. Guess what? Your parts operate the same way! You know this from your own experience. You may have not used these words to describe it but when the 4 Quads are in-synch we are usually doing our best. When they are not, we are under performing.
De-confuse and de-mystify the mental game to put the power, energy, focus and fun in your game!
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    Copyright 2006 David Breslow is a Speaker/Facilitator/Performance Coach who works with Athletes (PGA/LPGA) and businesses to help people perform at the top of their game. His approach is not business as usual and creates faster shifts in how people think, feel and perform every day. David has appeared on The Golf Channel, ESPN radio and has spoken to both large and small corporations across the country. To get more information or reach David call: 847.681.1698 or email: or visit the web:
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