12/11/2011 2:15 PM
In October, 2010 I attended a conference in Dallas, along with many of the top golf instructors in North America. One of the presenters was Dr. Gio Valliente, a sports psychologist who works with Matt Kucher, Justin Rose, Camilo Villegas, and many other professional golfers.
He is the author of Fearless Golf; his bio can be found at www.fearlessgolf.com. Following are some of my notes on his talk.
`Fear of any kind is the #1 enemy of all golfers regardless of ball striking and shot making capabilities’ Jack Nicklaus
Bad thinking and fear can undermine a great golf swing. There are three kinds of goals:
Valiente asked Rose when they began working together: `Why do you play golf?’ Rose produced a blank look…he couldn’t answer. `You mean you get up every day, practice for 14 hours, and you don’t know why?’
Gio then got the audience to take a few moments and make a list of : Why do I play? (It was very enlightening to put it down on paper. You might try it).
He then talked about the two kinds of golfers, Mastery and Ego
· Focus on learning and improvement
· Self imposed standards for excellence
· Continually striving for improvement regardless of performance
· Loving the struggle
· No such thing as a setback
· Poor shots lead to improvement, learning (The wise golfer makes 365 different mistakes once, the fool makes the same mistake 365 times)
· Trying to hit good shots to prove to others how good I am
· Showing off
· Trying to avoid mistakes
· Protect a lead. Please don’t let me mess up, I just want to get into the clubhouse
· Rewards are from attention, awards, recognition from others
· Poor shots lead to embarrassment, anger
Kids usually start out in Mastery, they LOVE THE GAME, it’s fun. Then, they find the first question they are asked when they come off the course is: `What did you shoot?’ Everybody is being conditioned by this question to become ego golfers.
So it’s between love of the game, and golf as a vehicle for image management and social status.
`I don’t play for the glamor, I just like the game’ Ben Hogan
`I developed an ever sharpening awareness that one’s true opponent in every golf contest is not another player, or even the entire field, but always the course itself-a realization I am sure, that has been common to all great champions and, I believe, a major contributor to their success.’ Jack Nicklaus
The difference is between self development and status building. It’s how you deal with bad golf. Everybody plays bad golf at times. Learn from it, be curious and motivated, vs. getting mad, embarrassed, making excuses.
Valliente ended the talk with the lowdown on fear: the capillaries on your hands get smaller when you are fearful. The result is that you have to hold tighter to feel the club as you normally do. The tighter grip makes your swing tighter, resulting in bad shots, resulting in negative thinking.
I enjoyed the fresh insights he offered. What I didn’t like was that he offered no solutions. Maybe a one on one session with him at a zillion dollars an hour would work, but for me, Zen Golf by Dr. Joe Parent gives many concrete ways to develop a strong mental game.