False Positives

By David BreslowJuly 13, 2005, 4:00 pm
Positive thinking is better than negative thinking, right? I think most people would agree, yet sometimes the impact our positivity has on us is not as powerful as we think it might be.
Michael is a 14 handicap golfer who I began to work with last year. His son, David is a ranked junior tennis player who began working with me several weeks later. Michael worked with his local PGA professional on a regular basis and enjoyed working on his game and trying to improve year after year. After a while Michael reported to me that he still wasnt shooting the scores he believed he was capable of. He said he felt his on course performance was not matching the time/effort he was putting into his game. This is not an uncommon feeling for many of the clients Ive spoken to over the years. Many folks believe they should be playing better than they are. David, his son also worked with a local tennis professional and was on the court at least four days a week playing matches or taking lessons. David also felt his results in match play werent quite matching the time/effort he was putting in even though he had a good regional ranking.
Michael and David both felt they were positive people yet couldnt understand why their positivity wasnt helping them perform better. They say positive things to themselves and try to think positively as much as possible. Thats great! I said. But its not always about whether you are positive or not, its about what you put the most intensity behind.
All the books on Sports Psychology and Peak Performance in general contain great and motivating stories about others who are positive and produce great performances. Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Annika Sorenstam and many political figures are examples of people who demonstrate positive thinking. I think everyone knows that positive thinking is better than negative thinking, right? Of course, being positive is extremely important, however Michael, David and many others fall into what I call the: False Positive Trap. This trap occurs when we think were focusing on the positive (and we are!) but what we focus on with greater intensity is self-criticism, judgments and unreasonable expectations, which are all forms of negativity. I see it happen time and time again with both athletes and coaches who do it quite unconsciously.
I witnessed a golf lesson two days ago where it was very interesting to notice the positive vs. the negative input. What was interesting was the high imbalance of negative input to positive input. Then, I observed a tennis lesson with David and the ratios were even more imbalanced. In fact, David was clearly becoming upset with the errors he was making while the pro continued to bark out instructions relating to what David should be doing. The golf and tennis lessons closely reflected the imbalances in how individuals treat themselves when it comes to positive and negative input. In the lessons, the positive feedback was treated with far less importance or intensity than the negative feedback. For example, Nice shot was said with relatively little excitement and Move your feet No, earlier preparation were expressed with a lot of intensity)The ratio of negative to positive was close to 65% to 35% and higher. This may seem very extreme but its very easy to think were being constructive when we giving constant feedback on what didnt go right, what we should be doing, etc. Again, its not just about the type of feedback; ITS ABOUT THE INTENSITY WITH WHICH WE ARE CONNECTED TO IT AND EXPERIENCING IT.
What about you? What is the ratio like for positive vs. negative feedback you give yourself?
Whats most important is the INTENSITY of your feedback; not just whether its positive or negative!
How would you answer this question:
What do you react to with greater intensitysomething you did well or something you didnt do well?
Eighty five percent responded by saying they respond with greater intensity, criticism and judgments to poor shots, poor decisions, missed opportunities, etc.as opposed to a positive ones.
In observing the Teaching pros (tennis and golf) when delivering negative feedback it was stronger (and more constant) than the positive feedback. If your individual feedback is so much more intense when it comes to negative information (self-criticism, judgments, reactions, etc.) your performance has to be negatively affected. Once again, when you are very clear about the mind/body/performance relationship and the principles by which they operate; this makes crystal clear sense. Its all connected and its a very precise and predictable process.
Be wary of what I call False Positives. These are the positive messages we give ourselves but that dont carry the same intensity as the negative criticisms and judgments we make on ourselves. Its the intensity that makes the difference in terms of our performance.
Whats your balance like? Turn False Positives into productive positive messages!
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    Copyright 2005 David Breslow. David is the author of Wired To Win and offers the highly acclaimed FlowZone program: Your Resilience Factor: Adapt and Excel in any Environment Workshop and One on One Performance Coaching. David has appeared on The Golf Channel, ESPN radio, etc. For more programs/services/products or sign up for a free newsletter (write newsletter in subject box). Contact: David Breslow 847.681.1698 Email: David@theflowzone.net or visit the web: www.theflowzone.net. For book orders call toll free: 1.888.280.7715.
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.

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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”

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    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.

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    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”

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    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”