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Teresa Wolande on the Psychology of Golf: Staying out of Your Own Way

As Tiger Woods stormed back into the pro golf scene and actually won a tournament, the golfing world watched in disbelief. After all, having been through a devastating back injury that forced him to stay away from the sport for a couple of years, nobody expected to see him make a comeback at all. So, when he climbed to the top of the world again, 22 years after he first won the masters, people who understand the context were amazed.

Mr. Woods’ story has a lot do to with something that many golfers fail to understand. The fact that it is crucial to stay out of your own way when playing. Obviously, this has nothing to do with physically staying out of your own way. Instead, it describes the mental approach to the game that has been proven to be one of the most challenging sports when it comes to someone’s mindset. After all, it is an individual discipline that sets them apart when there is no team or coaches who can provide invaluable guidance. On the contrary, golfers are often left to fight for themselves while dealing with injuries, bad days, technical issues, or anything else.

The Psychology of Sports

Before attempting to explain how staying out of your own way can help you become the best golfer that you could be, it is important to comprehend the psychology of sports. First, anyone who has ever participated in soccer, football, basketball, tennis, or any other sport that comes to mind will be familiar with the competitive mindset. In other words, the participants’ drive to win is often one of their most inspirational factors. And rightly so. After all, if the competitiveness were somehow taken out of sports, the entire industry would rapidly collapse. But, because people enjoy chasing goals and beating others in a fair game, millions of viewers are happy to chime in as they witness this battle take place.

Due to this, it is not at all surprising that practically every professional athlete has a not-so-hidden goal to claim victory. Unfortunately, this is also where the entire concept of getting in your own way starts presenting itself. The reason why is that people who are dedicated to winning over everything else will often push boundaries beyond what is reasonable. So, instead of practicing for a few hours per day, they may get so involved that they spend over a hundred hours playing their sport per week. Consequently, their stake in the profession grows to a point where their mental health is adversely impacted by stress, anxiety, and the pressure to win. A very similar concept is quite common in business. Just consider how entrepreneurs who spend countless hours working tend to neglect their well-being to close a deal or facilitate a transaction.

Seeing the Big Picture

According to a retired insurance and risk management expert, Teresa Wolande, the key to staying out of your own way boils down to seeing the big picture. So, since the business was mentioned, this would mean realizing that one transaction is not going to make or break someone’s entire career. That way, they can try to reduce some of the stress and focus on other aspects of their jobs. The same is true for golfers who might be struggling to get over a bad stroke that might end up costing them an entire tournament. Although the consequences of that bad stroke may be significant, it is just another one of the thousands of strokes that someone will take during their career. So, getting frustrated to a point where it is impossible to think straight will just make it much more difficult to get back on track. So, what are some strategies that can be used to start getting out of your own way?

Breathing, Strategizing, and Accepting

As Teresa Wolande points out, there are a few steps that can be quite helpful in preventing one’s tendency to be their own worst enemy. The first one is to calm down and breathe following an event that forces the person to panic. Instead of letting the panic set in and seeing adrenaline spike, it is much wiser to simply relax and take a few deep breaths that will help the body maintain its peace.

Afterward, the golfer, businessman, or whoever is in question should carefully strategize their next step. So, if the stroke were to push someone from par to a bogie, per se, they should look into making the next stroke as efficient and precise as possible to minimize the damage.

Finally, accepting the fact that the mistake has already occurred and realizing that one cannot overwrite past events is crucial. That way, they will stop worrying about the sunk cost that can no longer be recouped.

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