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    • Mental Game: Falling forward

    • Scott Stallings blocked out what the competition was doing to focus on his game and win. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)Scott Stallings blocked out what the competition was doing to focus on his game and win. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

    By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

    In the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open, there were a slew of players who were 8-under. Scott Stallings was one of those elite. He could have been worried about how the other players were performing at Torrey Pines. Instead, he was completely focused on his own play.

    Stallings stated that he is not a leaderboard watcher. He knows that he can only control his own actions, so his focus is on himself, without worry of the other great players on the course.

    When the focus is on factors within your control, like your attitude, it promotes greater emotional control. In direct contrast, focusing on others can cause anxiety and frustration, and as a result, you can lose emotional control.

    Because Stallings was in control of his emotions, he went on to birdie the final hole and win the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Stallings is not alone in this powerful mental game approach. Nick Saban, the famed University of Alabama football coach, uses this same principle in his playbook. He calls it “the process”. He tells his players to stop worrying about the score or what the other team is doing. Saban emphasizes that the sole focus is to perform your best on every play and let results happen. As we have seen with his immense success of four national championships (one with LSU and three with Alabama), you can’t argue with such a mental approach.

    Stallings and Saban get it. Here are two mental game suggestions to follow their lead:

    1. Focus on the controllable. You can control your anger and your confidence, not much more.

    2. Let go of the uncontrollable. You can’t control bad breaks or if the ball hits a mark on the green and misses the hole. Let go of uncontrollable to gain more control over your emotions.

    To find serenity on the course, be in control of your mental game by focusing only on what you can control.

    Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players as well as top collegiate and junior golfer. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at www.drgreggsteinberg.com.

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