2 Mental Strategies for Overcoming a Poor Performance

Learn how to overcome a poor start in a game with two mental strategies inspired by golfers Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

Tiger WoodsThe battle between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy for the Tour Championship made headlines but did not live up to the hype. Neither golfer took home the trophy, because they both suffered from two mental issues that affect many athletes.

Create a Mental Gameplan

It's critical to have a plan for the entire tournament. "I hit it great the first day, but after that it wasn't very good, especially on the weekend," said Woods. "I fought very hard just to shoot what I shot. I wasn't sharp."

The game of golf—like other sports—requires players to make a mental plan, but it needs to include the entire tournament. Nothing you encounter should be unexpected, and you should be prepared for everything.

We had a player come to us to work on a solution for tournament play. The key was for the player to envision the outcome of good play: standing on the podium holding the trophy. The player went on to win more tournaments.

Maintain Confidence After Failure

The second key is to keep your confidence even if you don't start well. McIlroy had trouble hitting fairways. He lost confidence in his drive and had to play from the rough on most holes. It's not the end of the world if a hole, match or game doesn't go exactly as planned. Yet many players dwell on their initial failure, which only leads to continued poor results.

Another client had this same tendency. He made a game plan and expected it to work perfectly. When it didn't—which occurred frequently—he abandoned ship. To help turn his game around, we worked on playing ugly to prepare for the worst. This familiarized him with recovering from a poor start and built confidence even when he hit bad shots.

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