Mind Over Sports

Archive for July 2012

I may be wrong about this (God knows I’ve been wrong before) but I think the reason Tiger Woods is playing better golf these days is because he has a new woman in his life. A new “Significant Other” who is probably a tall statuesque blond who is highly intelligent.
The reason he is not winning tournaments is because he’s keeping her identify a secret from the media and the general public. That is, he’s “withholding” which is a form of lying that creates baggage affecting his ability to focus. In the past there was Joanna Jagoda and Elin Nordegren, who everyone knew about. But today there’s someone else, who no one knows about. If I were advising Tiger (which I’m not) I would encourage him to go public and introduce his new “significant other.” When he does that, I’m pretty sure you’ll see him light up the leader boards once again like the Tiger of old.

Here’s what Ernie Els was quoted in the media as saying the day before the final round of the British Open: “There’s a challenge for us to catch Adam. But for some reason I’ve got some belief this week. I feel something special can happen. I feel I’ve put in a lot of work the last couple of years, especially the last couple of months. So something good is bound to happen, so hopefully it will be tomorrow.”

There was an interesting article in today’s USA Today about 37-year old Amy Acuff who will be making her fifth appearance in the Olympics. According to the article, “At 37, the high jumper says she feels better than ever. She retired after the 2009 world championships and gave birth to her daughter, Elsa, who is now 2. ‘It’s kind of a poorly kept secret that a lot of times after you have a baby you actually come back better than before,’ says Acuff, a six-time outdoor national champion. ‘I don’t know exactly why that is.’” I think I can shed some light on this for you, Amy. There’s a high correlation between an athlete’s feelings of self-worth (self-esteem) and performance. And having a baby not only enhances the mother’s self-esteem, but she’s also happy and her life is in harmony. it would not be surprising to see Amy bring home the gold.

“Observations that contradict existing wisdom often lead toward, not away, from the truth.” – Anonymous

In 1960, Dr. Maxwell Maltz wrote “Psycho Cybernetics” – a runaway best seller, and in it he introduced the concept of visualization, which subsequently was embraced by universities and colleges across this nation who were offering PhDs in sport psychology. In his book, Dr. Maltz wrote of the “Theatre of the Mind” and maintained that if individuals were to visualize something in their lives, it will take place, regardless of what is happening in their personal lives.

I must not be a very persuasive person because for the past 26 years I’ve tried unsuccessfully to convince others of something that I accidentally stumbled upon. That is, if an athlete is encumbered with unresolved issues and/or problems in his or her personal life, visualization techniques are totally ineffective. And in 1987, I read something in the media that absolutely convinced me I was on the right track. It involved one of golf’s greatest visualizers, Tom Watson. Here’s what happened: Rumors were floating around about Tom Watson’s personal life during the 1987 U.S. Open Golf Tournament. After an opening round of 72, he called a press conference and announced he was not an alcoholic, he was not divorcing his wife, and he was not firing his brother-in-law as his agent. Whatever impression his declaration made on sportswriters, he cleared the issues from his head and focused on golf. The next day he shot an outstanding 65 and finished runner-up in the tournament.

I think the main reason I’ve been unable to get this fact across to the general public is because our educational institutions are teaching otherwise. At the present time, if you have a degree in sport psychology and attempt to help an athlete with his or her personal issues you could lose your license. The reason for this is that you would be entering the domain of the clinical psychologist, which is taboo since the field of psychology is very territorial. My recommendation is that when our universities and colleges award a student with a PhD in sport psychology, they should, simultaneously, require that the student also have a masters degree in counseling. This will enable the student to help athletes with their personal problems and issues without losing his or her license. But for change to come about, our universities and colleges would be required to acknowledge they have erred over the past 52 years, and I really doubt that will happen.

Won’t be long before football season will be here and there’s no time like the present to start making predictions. For example, I believe Oklahoma University will end up being the National Champion and their Quarterback, Landry Jones, if he isn’t injured, will be one of the finalists to win the Heisman Trophy. He should have a fantastic season since he recently married his sweetheart, Whitney Hand, a starting guard for the Sooners’ women’s basketball team. It will be another excellent example of how, when athletes are happy and their lives are in harmony, they perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis. And watch for Whitney to have a great season, also.

Their names are Adam Dunn of the White Sox (age 32), Joe Nathan of the Rangers (age 37), Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies (age 33), David Ortiz of the Red Sox (age 36) and R. A. Dickey of the Mets (age 37).
All five had below average seasons in 2011 but this year they all rebounded and have achieved all-star status and will play in the 83rd All-Star Game in Kansas City. But that’s not all. If you scratched the surface I’m sure you would find all five had some special event or situation happen in their personal lives that made them feel good about themselves and affected their self-esteem. A new marriage, a new girlfriend, a new baby. When athletes are happy and their lives are in harmony their performance in their sport will automatically be enhanced.

If you’re a golfer, here’s a video about confidence and commitment that you may want to check out. It’s been posted by my friend, Sean Saunders, a PGA Golf Pro, and it’s part of his excellent 90 Day Challenge. The link is:

http://www.swsgolf.com/2012/06/week-5-link-mental-game


N. V. I.
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