What mental state should you play in?

Aug 17th, 2011No Comments

I loved watching the final round of the PGA Championship. I was watching how these great players handled the major pressure. I will be honest in that I don’t know a lot about Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner; however they looked like totally different types of golfers on Sunday. What I mean by this is the “state” they played the final round. The commentators mentioned time and again how Dufner seemed to not let anything bother him. As the round went on I thought Dufner was trying to be so unemotional that it affected his intensity level. I understand that if we get too emotional it can hurt performance, yet Dufner was going the other way with this idea. He looked complacent, almost uninterested. This can lead to focus that is not as sharp and energy levels that are too low to be at your best. On the other hand Bradley was so in the moment he allowed himself to celebrate great shots with a fist pump, big smile, and hop in his step. He actually looked like he enjoyed the pressure. I coach golfers to be humans, not robots. Throughout sports history the champions showed a certain intensity and energy. Some showed it in how they reacted, while others you could see it in their eyes. Bradley had that intensity and energy and he allowed himself to experience the moment. Dufner looked as if he was trying to ignore the importance of the event by not caring. Some golfers are told to play like you don’t care and never show emotion because that is bad. I don’t want to coach robots, I want to coach golfers who do care, who do get upset, who do celebrate a great shot, that’s life. I think that what makes life great is to be emotionally in the experience, that what’s makes us feel alive. I know people will tell me that too much emotion can hinder performance. I agree if the emotion is not channeled properly it can become an issue. I sometimes think that trying to not show emotion can be more damaging as one loses the spark that brings the competitive spirit alive when you need it most. Both played great golf for four rounds and Bradley proved yet again that emotion can be an asset to performance. I’m looking forward to following Bradley throughout his career, because it is refreshing to see someone enjoy the game so much

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