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Beating the Odds

Rory McIlroy’s Mental Edge

Golf legend Bobby Jones once said, “Golf is played on a six-inch course, namely, the space between your ears.”

If that’s true — and it is — then the rest of the golf world better watch out.

Rory McIlroy has built a mental game to go with his physical game, and that makes him scary for this week’s PGA and for the future.

“Mentally, I’m really sharp,” he said after a recent victory in the Bridgestone Invitational. “I didn’t start to think about score. I didn’t think about where I was in the tournament. I just playing shot after shot after shot. So yeah, it’s good.”

With those few words, McIlroy explains what hurts golfers (and everyone else). People find it very hard to stay in the moment. They get distracted by regrets (past) or fears (future) The problem in that you can’t accomplish anything in the part or the future. You can do things only in the moment. The great athletes learn to stay in the moment.

It’s not surprising that McIlroy has developed an unusually strong mental game. He grew up with unusually big dreams.

“I never wanted to be a normal person growing up,” he said recently. “I wanted to be the golfer who wins majors.”

So far he is that golfer. He’s won three majors, including the recent British Open, and can win a fourth this weekend. When asked if he thought about beating Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors, he predictably kept his mind in the present.

“I’m just trying to win a fourth,” he said.

To become the champion that McIlroy is, pay attention to your thoughts today. Notice how often they are in the past or the future. Whenever you see that happening, bring your thoughts back to the present.

Or, to put it another way, here’s a quote from my book “Think Better, Win More! How Sport Psychology Can Make You a Champion.”

“Keep your mind on what you’re doing while you’re doing it!”

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Greatness begins with the way you think, and “Think Better, Win More!: How Sport Psychology Can Make you a Champion” will help.

To improve at anything, check out “The Improvement Factor: How Champions Turn Practice into Success.”

Need some motivation? Open any page of “Thank God You’re Lazy! The Instant Cure for What’s Holding You Back” for a story or a quote to lift your spirits.

Are you a coach? Here’s “Ten Things Great Coaches Know” by Mike Tully and Gary Pritchard.

More great info on Facebook page Total Game Plan!


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