28 October 2011 | SEAN VAN STADEN | SPORTS COLUMNIST
A legend who has won and been on top of the world rankings 11 out of the last 15 years. A man who on average plays between 40 and 42 events a season where his nearest competitors play around 51 to 57 events a year.
Woods’ seasonal points scored on average 746 points where second-placed opponents only managed to achieve on average a total of 471 points.
This is same man if you YouTube Tiger Woods, you will see him hitting a perfectly straight ball live on national television at the age of two years.
So what has gone wrong?
Critics are saying that it is his swing, it might be his coach, it could be his caddy, his promiscuous behaviour or the devastating divorce from his wife where she took custody of his children and a small fortune. Truth be told there are so many factors that are at play here, both internally and externally which are affecting his golf.
And for goodness sake it’s not his swing.
Okay, let me rephrase that. Yes it is his swing, but he has not forgotten how to hit a ball.
The last 15 years as a winning golfing prodigy has taught us that. It is his coping mechanism and mental strength that is affecting his game.
Tiger over the years has learnt to cope with many negative situations and has built up many coping techniques to deal with most situations.
When a core and life changing event has taken place that you find yourself not being able to cope, your performance will drop.
In Tiger’s case you all know that he is dealing with some pretty tough stuff at the moment and there is no ways he has equipped himself with the coping mechanism to deal with the consequences of his actions.
In coming back to sports psychology, how do you equip yourself with some core principles which are guaranteed to help your game?
When you are stressed your body becomes tense, limiting your range of movement which effects your force generation and power output. Simply put, Peewee Herman, your performance won’t be that great.
If you are a footballer and you are tense, this will affect your fine motor skills like dribbling or shooting which are needed to out-school your opponent.
Learning to breathe in through your nose for 10 seconds, pausing for two seconds and exhaling like Darth Vader for another 10 will teach you to inhale more oxygen and relax those muscles in any situation. Make sure you start at two seconds and then work your way up to 10 seconds every day.
Grab a pen and paper and divide the sheet into two sections, short term and long term goals.
Start with long term goals since they are more fun to begin with. Write down all the big dreams you have. You can even cut out images from magazines and paste them in a collage if you are not one for words.
Your long term goals are goals which are out of reach at this moment but you sure want them badly.
Now focus on your short term goals and focus on a day to day, week to week and month to month action plan on what you need to do to achieve your long term goals. Write down what you are willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals. Focus on areas which are in your control or grasp.
I often tell my athletes that it is the sum of all the small things you do each day that will bring you closer to your ultimate goal.
If your goal requires you to get up early in the morning and doing push-ups and sit-ups or core stability before you go to bed, then so be it. If that is what it takes to get ahead, then make it part of your lifestyle.
In having proper sports psychology training, negative influence to an athlete is like bullets to Superman – they just bounce off.
We are in a modern age where training alone just won’t get you there anymore.
You need something powerful and you need something that will help you every step of the way on your journey to success.
That something is sports psychology, your greatest weapon in your sporting arsenal.
Sean is a sports scientist and director of Advanced Sports Performance.
Catch his column in The Citizen every fortnight.
Follow me on Twitter, SeanVStaden