Noted Sports Psychologist Rotella Teaches Good Principles for Even the Worst Golfer Among Us
Dr. Bob Rotella is about as big time as it gets in golf psychology. He works with the big guys, but his ten principles for a competitive round, and his ten rules for mental fitness work for all of us, even if we’re only competing with ourselves. Here’s one from each list. “Try to play great, not to avoid playing poorly.” We’ve been there, right? It dovetails with believing we can win, difficult at times if we have developed poor track records as a habit. Maybe changing the self-trust will improve the rest of it. Here’another from list 1 – “Love the challenge of the day,” and the corresponding rule from list 2 – “Don’t get seduced by results.” If the challenge of the day is breaking 100, so be it, but keep at it in the present moment. Don’t get crushed by setbacks, or euphoric by sudden unexpected blessings. Number three of each list – “Get out of results, into process,” and “Sulking won’t get you anything.” How many times have I heard “Well you hit some good shots,” which meant nothing to me considering the betrayal of the final score. The pros say the same thing, even in a sup-par round. No entire round goes exactly right. After all, you just played a round of golf, and you scored the way you scored. You didn’t just come out of a war, one you lost despite your best efforts.
Lessening our obsession with outcome, suggests Rotella, is better than caring too much. Spend your precious energy lamenting the final tally throws away all those good things that happened, including beautiful scenery, sunshine, and those good shots that should be appreciated. The corresponding line is “Beat them with patience.” That first tee is so deadly – “Oh no, this is who they think I am!” Nothing is decided on an early round golf shot. Stick with it, work the process, and see where you are on the back nine.Â Believing in yourself to “play freely” is a huge Rotella point, and the partner line is “Ignore unsolicited swing advice.” You didn’t pay those greens fees or enter that tournament to tinker with yourself, and certainly not to let someone else do it. Suddenly, your self-belief is hanging on someone else’s say-so, and you are no longer the captain of your own ship. Visualizing the shot has a counterpart in most fine motor control games and sports. That should help with the Rotella axiom,Â “Embrace your golf personality.” If you’re a suave, thoughtful swing sort of guy, don’t get mind-messed by the second coming of John Daley.Â Being “decisive, committed, and clear” is what holds up the game of golf you want to play, the way you want to play it. Follow the routine you have followed at the range, chipping, and putting green.Â Why go wacky when you have a predominant golf personality at the ready? That sounds like panic. Rotella admonishes us to be our own best friends, and to test ourselves in stroke play. The course is a more consistent competitor than ten completely different human rivals.
Here’s a big one – “Love your wedge and putter. If you are wedge wobbly or ham-handed with the putter, maybe the range isn’t the first or only place to go. Consider the strokes saved by confident consistency. Think of the advantage of chipping for the hole instead of praying to get close. Finding someone who believes in you is gold. We can actually develop a negative anticipation for comments from a playing partner, even one far better than we are.
It all sounds as if Rotella is reminding us that we own the round of golf we are about to play, and that there’s no need to make an enemy of ourselves. Let’s be happy and seek to slip into what and who we are, how we best maneuver on a golf course. Meanwhile, I’m going to start looking up Bob Rotella books. I had no idea that I was such an important part of the process.