This ability to conquer oneself is no doubt the most precious of all things sports bestows. ~ Oga Korbut
Is Tiger Woods status as a golf icon over and done with? Many predict his days of grandeur are behind him. For the first time in 14 years he has slipped from the top ten list of best golfers in the world, currently ranked #12.
Several obvious problems contribute to his falling rankings. He hasn’t won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open. Complaints of an aggravated knee, plus Achilles and calf injuries, have prevented him from playing in many important tournaments.
Granted, athletes experience setbacks. Working through those obstacles is the only way to get back in the game. What about the big goals to break the world record, becoming the first golfer to win 19 Majors? Striving for this record requires more than physical and technical abilities. Along with his body and swing getting up to speed, his mindset must be in top shape as well.
Woods is in recovery in more ways than one. Along with his physical recovery, psychologically he is in recovery as well, or so we hope. Woods was not bigger, stronger or tougher than the other golfers on the pro circuit. What separated him from all the rest, placing him among one of the greatest golfers in history, was his mental game.
At one point in his career everything flowed smoothly. Golfers live for those moments. During those moments even unforeseen challenges don’t affect the flow. Woods performance appeared seamless and effortless.
Woods plans to play in the US Open in mid-June. Strategic preparation is necessary to reposition himself, focusing on his strengths. He is familiar with physical pain. Like many athletes he has a high pain threshold. Now is the time for Woods to do the tough work, building his mental game. Recapturing his ability to get into the zone on demand is his golden ticket.
Laser focus, clarity and presence of mind is akin to being “in the zone.” Woods is facing the moment of truth; does the drive to be great remain within him? During this recuperation period he can continue to train his mindset. Typically he would play on the course prior to the tournament. During his rehab, Woods has the skills to effectively visualize playing on the Congressional Country Club at Bethesda, Maryland.
Woods mindset determines how well he performs that day. His months and years of training have prepared him for this event. Let’s finally see it put the test. When Woods becomes clearly focused, believing in his full potential to command the course and commit to winning, his game will turn around.
The zone is unlike any other feeling. Satori, a Japanese term, is a zen state. The combination of feeling relaxed while focused in the present is unlike anything else experienced. A conscious connection develops to the task at hand. (Albinson & Bull, 1990). Golfers playing in the zone envision their play before hitting the ball. Tiger mastered the ability to contain it and tap into the experience at will over and over again. Now is the time for him to reconnect with that skill.
Getting into the zone on demand is possible. Regardless of the difficulty of the shot, each obstacle before him has a solution. His experience provides the knowledge to win. Clear focus on his goal is the impetus to overcome all obstacles. Strategy, preparation and action are required to successfully begin winning again.
According to Carl Lewis, an American Track Athlete, “My thoughts before a big race are usually pretty simple. I tell myself: Get out of the blocks, run your race, stay relaxed. If you run your race, you’ll win. Channel your energy. Focus.”
The ability to get into the zone, at will, creates champions. Envisioning confidence toward achieving his goal is vitally important. Visualization is an excellent tool for success. The greater his mindset for achievement, the greater his potential recapture his dream.