Recently, sports fans watched as top athletes let a poor mental game steal away a victory. Looking for examples? Let’s refresh your memory.
During the 2012 Ryder Cup, the U.S. team had a sizeable lead going into the final day. But a few holes away from victory, the Americans seem to lose their confidence, caving in to the more self-assured European team.
Then, on Monday Night Football, Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys let their game fizzle. When you’re playing at home with the your fans there to cheer you on, you need to use energy to win. Unfortunately, Romo’s poor leadership led to an ugly loss to the Chicago Bears.
(Are you setting yourself up to fail?)
So what are some sports takeaways you can use to boost your mental game? Let’s learn from these pro mistakes.
Have a Reason to Play
The European Ryder Cup team dedicated their performance to the late Seve Ballesteros, the Spanish pro who, in 1997, captained Europe to victory. Ballesteros died last May after a long battle with cancer. Giving tribute to his memory gave Europe a unique purpose, making golf more of a team sport than an individual competition. When team members share a common purpose, their will can be unstoppable. Without such a purpose, many players lack the drive to succeed. (What is your motivation?)
Encouragement from teammates to finish strong seemed to disappear from the American team at the Ryder Cup, and it also happened to the Cowboys on Monday night after Romo threw several interceptions. It’s not enough to see the finish line. To win, you have to cross it. The game is not over after a few mistakes, but even top professional players sometimes allow themselves to fall victim to negativity, causing them to not rise up for the team and fight to the finish.
In sports and life, we all make mistakes, from missed putts to dropped footballs. Errors set back even professional players; however, those who pull victory out of the jaws of defeat are the ones who achieve greatness. A key mental skill is to forget your mistakes and focus on desired results. It makes for great sports entertainment while proving the value of mental training for all athletes.