A Story in Sports Psychology

195 160 Van Phillips

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I used to play as a fully exempt member of the European tour.

During this era a small man started to appear on the driving range every week. He walked very briskly and smoked a lot and would very often give rueful looks to players as if to say “I know something you don’t!” The players would all talk together saying ” who is that guy?” And then one day a player who was struggling badly that season, started to talk to the man and word spread that he was some sort of sports psychologist. This player then made a few cuts, nothing special, but in the eyes of the other players this signified that maybe this small man did know something.

Within about six months the man was working with nearly half the top 50 players in the world! at this point I too, became very curious as to what he was doing with these players, so I approached him and asked if we could work together. He said yes and told me his fees, which were not cheap but I had to find out what he did.

The first session was to be in his hotel room at 7pm the Tuesday before the Dutch Open and I was excited to start hearing what he was doing with all these world class players. When I arrived he let me in, turned off the lights and asked me to sit in an arm chair with my eyes closed. I have to admit I was a bit nervous at this point! This only got worse when he started to talk in what can only be described as a caricature hypnotic drawl “your arms are heavy, your legs are heavy” etc etc. This went on and on for about 30 minutes and then he told me I was meeting my subconscious mind and that all my shots would be perfect from now on.

The next five days were the same, except when he came to me on the range he would ask, “are you focused on your target?” without ever actually having explained to me his version of ‘how’ to focus. This went on for five or six weeks and each week I kept thinking that he would tell me something profound, or give me concentration techniques or something that would seem practical in order to help me perform to higher levels, but each week he would repeat the mantra in the dark at night and ask if I was focussed on my target on the range.

It is worth you knowing that at this point I was a tournament winner and regular top 75 or better player for several seasons and I was looking for a way to move up a notch, maybe start contending in majors or break into the world top 50. I was also using and had been for a long time, sound, proven, psychological processes that I felt really helped me under pressure (please watch my videos on this subject!), but the sheer volume and quality of this guy’s new client list was too hard to resist.It is also worth you knowing that every tour player is the same no matter how good they are, they want to get better and this is actually very dangerous.It is also very advantageous if you are a coach of some sort, as most tour players are so insecure that they will try anything to improve.It was this environment that led to this guy’s wild fire rise to the top of golf sports psychology.

I had had enough by about week seven or eight and thanked him for his services. I was flabbergasted that so many top players (who were already top players by the way, BEFORE working with this guy), kept paying the exorbitant fees that he charged, just to listen to a form of hypnosis that did not bring about results that they were not ALREADY achieving.

I believe in common sense and certain simple methods of thinking or perceiving situations that were used by the greats like Jack Nicklaus before it became trendy to have a mind coach. Not that I’m against mind coaches, as it is unquestionably a huge factor in performance, but I believe in real, PRACTICAL techniques, that help you stay in the present and focus the mind during the actual execution phase and in-between shots, where it’s most important, not in gobbledygook and witch doctors with no real qualifications and or personal successes themselves.

If you have thousands of pounds to spare and want to lie down for thirty minutes everyday with someone telling you how great you are, this will certainly not do you any harm, but this has to be part of a whole set of effective behavioural patterns and processes, not an isolated performance technique.So watch my videos on this subject and you will find just that, real techniques from someone whose actually been there, seen it and done it!

Van Phillips
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Van Phillips

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