Okay, it’s Monday and I am a little bothered by what I saw being broadcast all weekend long. Apparently Tiger Woods is finished? Media reports of Tiger Woods’s PGA failure, coupled with his performance record the last two seasons seem to have everyone “walking on his grave.” I even saw a report from a mental training coach declaring Woods as not mentally tough enough to succeed again. I find these judgments premature and bordering on the ridiculous.
I am certainly not a Tiger apologist. Nor am I going to comment on personal events of the last few years that have impacted his game, his focus, and his ultimate performance. Certainly, many things including his injuries have affected his golf game. But to call him done? Is this not a premature declaration? (check out the rest and what Jack has to say)
For those readers old enough to remember one Jack Nicklaus, the man whose records Tiger is chasing, you may remember that Nicklaus was declared “DOA” on a few occasions as well. His slump in 1979-80 had him characterized as being at “the end of his career.” He was all of 40 years old. His demise as declared by the press “may have been premature.”
In 1980, he again won two major championships and six years later at the age of 46 became the oldest person to win a major. I remember those declarations that Nicklaus’s career was over really well, in part because Jack Nicklaus was my favorite golfer to watch and learn from.
In particular, I had learned much from his articles on using guided imagery and visualization, well before I understood the topic from my future academic training (but that story is for another blog). Nicklaus was still a force to be reckoned with. He was not the dominant figure of the 1960s and 70s, but nor was he DOA . Even Mr. Nicklaus thinks Tiger will be back.
Here is my real issue with all the weekend press on Tiger’s less than stellar performance in the PGA Tour: “Declarations by perceived experts about an athlete’s mental abilities”.
It’s bad enough when the press speculates and especially on these types of issue, but coming from so called experts it feels even more damning. Is it fair to Tiger Woods, accomplished athlete that he is, or fair to the rest of us when so called experts that are smart enough (or dumb enough, matter of perspective I suppose) speak out too early? I learned a long time ago to be careful what I wrote or said publically about an athlete. Talk about an opportunity to get bit in the ass later. Over the years (hopefully wiser), I have given way to what I call “hypothetical speculation.” When working with my clients, I can see where it is instructive to talk about an athlete that appears to have a problem focusing or dealing with stress. If an athlete with those types of issues came to me for help, I know what strategies’ I might teach them to overcome these things within themselves.
Would I ever say that Tiger’s issues are directly related to his infidelity or the breakup of his marriage? Not in a million years. Why, because I don’t know. How could I know? He could be dealing with that personal crisis just fine as thousands of mere mortals do every day. (I’ve read) Babe Ruth had plenty of companionship (and beer) while he traveled from city to city, his marriage suffered, but he is still a baseball hero and legend.
A brain surgeon is caught with their pants down and still operates and saves lives. We’ve had Presidents, Senators and other World Leaders do the same (Okay, maybe not a great example). Major Business CEOs have gone through divorce and their companies are still making millions and billions.
My point is this: For sure, Tigers’ game is not what it was prior to 2009. He had a knee injury to recover from (not a small or insignificant joint to injure.) He has been linked to performance enhancing drugs. AND he says publically that it is his swing that is at issue, so who are we to both point a finger or to declare him done.
Expert me, will keep my opinions to myself. It is something I have done now for three decades. I protect the athletes I’ve worked with and those I have not talked to. I see it as my responsibility to them and the profession I choose. I’ll admit, it has not always been the best business development strategy “keeping things mum” while we do the work of retraining them. (And, I am now being “coerced” by many of the athletes I work with to let people know how effective the training has been for them). Keeping professional confidences has protected many from speculation. And there is value in not pre-emptively declaring a sport celebrity past their prime, but that won’t exactly sell advertising now will it?
Even on my radio show, which airs Tuesday nights on http://www.hvrnc.com/ we talk about the Wide World of Sports, and I will not speculate on anything more than why the Jets won’t win the Superbowl (that’s a shot for a friend that reads this blog). We talk about sports, the game and what it takes to succeed, but other than a certain receiver not having good hands; I’ll leave the mind games to the unqualified for their conjectures.
So please, hold the eulogy back on Tiger for a while. I just looked at some of today’s news and after the barrage of Tiger is DOA reports, now other writers are jumping on Tiger’s bandwagon telling us he’ll be back. Makes for great copy doesn’t it. Will Tiger be back? I wouldn’t bet against him. There is an Athlete Within Him that took quite some time to develop. I suspect he won’t go out quietly.
Writing as the Sport Psychologist and Performance Coach, who has worked with over 2,000 athletes to develop the athlete within them and refine their “mental game” I can say with absolute conviction that those that develop winning mindsets over the course of their life tend to find their way back. The Athlete Within simply needs to be first developed, then supported and when we/they fall off our bike or our horse, ultimately, what is required of ANY OF US is the resolve to get back on and overcome any stigma that might attach itself to our psyche. The mind is a powerful thing that we can condition. This is literally the premise for the book that took me over 30 years of playing, coaching and experience to complete.
So even if his Tiger’s body won’t allow him to strike the ball as he once did, he may very well find a different path, because that my friends is what “champions” tend to do. Nicklaus did it. Palmer did it. Tiger may very well too.
People may not hold him in the same regard as before, but he is still Tiger Woods after all.
This is some text prior to the author information. You can change this text from the admin section of WP-Gravatar Mike Margolies: Sport Psychology Consultants ; TheMental-Game.com Mike Margolies is a Sport Psychology Consultant, Certified Mental Trainer® (CMT), Author, and Professional Speaker. When you want to be the best that you can be and the one thing you might be missing is the right mental game - what can you do? Well, athletes from all over the country have been seeking out Mike Margolies for over three decades to help them reach their potential. His clients include professional, elite, colligate and youth athletes in every sport. They have sought his counsel and unique teaching style to learn about the game within the game, or what mental training can do to help them become the athlete they want to be. He has trained professional and elite athletes and helped guide many to world championships and even the Super Bowl. Mike has trained more than 2000+ athletes. He has taught at four Universities and completed research at the United States Olympic Training Center. His new book is called The Athlete within You- A Mental Approach to Sports and Business. He currently works with individual athletes, teams and businesses around the world, both in person and via SKYPE. Mike is based out of the Pacific Northwest. Let him encourage you to play the game within the game. The Athlete within You is waiting to come out play. Learn the rules to the mental game to help realize your potential. Read more from this author