Mind Over Sports

Archive for June 2014

When NFL Saints Coach Sean Payton was informed the World Cup coach for Mexico was having his players abstain from sex for three weeks and then asked if his players should abstain on nights before games, he responded: “I’m for whatever we’ve been doing. How’s that?” But the fact of the matter is, it’s not what the coach believes, it’s what the athletes believe. I once worked with a Division I men’s basketball team and the night before a game their coach locked them into a hotel room so they would have to abstain from sex the night before a game, even though most of the players felt that having sex the night before a game helped them loosen up and relaxed them and they actually played better. Coaches should remember that it’s the athletes’ beliefs that affect performance, not the coaches.



Twenty-five year old Rory McIlroy, one of the world’s top professional golfers, recently sat down with golf legend Jack Nicklaus during which the subject of McIlroy’s first and second rounds at Nicklaus’ recent Memorial Tournament came up. Nicklaus asked him: “How the hell can you shoot 63 (first round) and then 78 (second round)?” I think I might have one possible answer to that question and you might agree with me if you subscribe to the theory: What takes place away from the golf course affects what takes place on the golf course.

McIlroy recently broke off his engagement to Danish tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki and said at the time: “The problem is mine…I wasn’t ready for all that marriage entails.” But there could be some lingering effects from that decision. What if (and I’m only speculating) Caroline didn’t want the relationship to end and is still pursuing the possibility they will get back together. And one of the ways she stays in contact with him is through his cell phone. As you may be aware, some of the PGA Tournaments allow participants to take and make calls on their cell phones during competition providing the calls are personal and not performance related. So let’s assume (and this is strictly assumption) that just before teeing off the second round he receives an unwanted call from Caroline. They get into a brief spat and the results show up on the leader board. But the weirdest thing of all is why do they even allow cell phones (or i-phones) to be used during competition and how can they police usage?

I’ve always said that what takes place away from the golf course affects what takes place on the golf course. An extreme example is the current situation involving Phil Mickelson and his being accused of “insider trading.” If convicted, Mickelson could go to prison. It is the first time since 2003 that he has gone this far into a P.G.A Tour season without a victory. And last week he instructed F.B.I. agents to “speak to my lawyers.” I also believe that what goes around comes around. There have always been rumors about Mickelson’s arrogance, especially when interacting with his fellow P.G.A. touring partners. It was said that he treated everyone around him badly and had few if any close friends. If true, that would certainly account for what’s happening in his life today. And it should be a good lesson to anyone reading this column. Always treat others the way you yourself would like to be treated.

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