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December 3 2013

11:15 AM

Mental Game: Deal with highs, lows

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2013 was a trying time for Rory McIlroy, but a recent win should help his confidence.

By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

Every golf fan was treated to spectacular shot-making during the final round of the Australian Open. Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott were battling it out like two prize fighters on top of their game. Both were hitting prodigious drives and laser like irons at the pins on almost every hole. Unfortunately, only one could be victor. McIlroy made a timely birdie on the difficult 18th to sneak out the title from Scott.

Amazingly, this was McIlroy’s first title for this season. The golf world was expecting much more, given his blistering performance in 2012 in which he was voted the PGA TOUR Player of the Year, won four events including a major, as well as had the No. 1 world ranking in his pocket. Unfortunately for the golf fans in the world, his game went south, very south. However, McIlroy’s trial and tribulations on the links gives us some very good mental game lessons:

1. Expect some highs and lows throughout a season. If McIlroy can go into a bit of a slump, with his amazing talent, then anyone can. But your mental game key is to remain calm and don’t panic when you are having a low in your golf game life cycle. Realize that is normal and allow it to eventually pass. However, if you do the opposite and begin to lose confidence, and perhaps overhaul your swing, then you may get into a much longer slumping pattern that could take months, even years to recover.

2. Keep your confidence with small steps. We know in sports psychology research that confidence comes from having good performances. You can only fake confidence for so long. McIlroy mentioned that his confidence started to build with some strong finishes of late. Because of those good performances, he had the confidence to stay patient and squeak out a win “Down Under.”

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.  Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf. Inquire about coaching as well as get your autographed copy at www.drgreggsteinberg.com

 

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