He recently commented on Padraig Harrington's first Open Championship win.
It follows the revelation of Harrington's astute mental preparations. In the psychology of sport, it is wise to prepare precisely for the outcomes that you want.
Golf: Padraig Harrington - Future History
When assessing why a Open Championship play-off has been won by one player and not the other, you have to take into account age and experience. You have to factor in the quality of their game. Then and most importantly of all, you have to throw into the mix their mental application. How they would be thinking about themselves. Their last afternoon's work. Victory spurned. Their opponents. Any slivers of doubt and uncertainty would tilt the advantage away from them.
When we learn of Padraig Harrington's attitude to the play-off, it starts to become clear why he is now the Open Champion. When he went to the putting green, he looked at Bob Rotella and said, 'I'm good. When you see me out in the play-off, doing this with my hand (waving it in the air like a salute) you are going to think I'm waving, but I am raising the Claret Jug to the sky'.
This is the mental preparation of an Open Champion. He is preparing exactly for the outcome that he wants. He is establishing a mental blueprint. Creating future history. Like Muhammad Ali and his famous pre-fight predictions.
Harrington's raised arm to the crowd technique works on a number of levels. Firstly it puts him in the state or feeling of an Open Champion. A place beyond hope or maybe. Doubts removed. I am the Open Champion. This allows him to negotiate the play-off as the Open Champion in waiting. A place of strength.
Secondly the feeling becomes powered and enhanced by the ringing applause of the crowd. They are confirming him in his intention. Endorsing him. He is holding the Claret Jug aloft. They are applauding him. Should we be surprised that this outcome manifests itself twenty minutes later? As Marcus Aurelius said, 'You become what you think about'.
Sergio Garcia would have to be even better mentally prepared to win this battle. This play-off may not have come down to who was the best player. But who had done the smartest mental preparation. Padraig Harrington's thoroughness was worthy of a true champion.
I particularly like the line "You become what you think about". There is another great article on Meath's recent win over Galway in the football qualifiers. The principles apply for any team sport. It highlights the signs that show a team that doesn't really believe in itself.
GAA: Galway - In Search Of Trust
It's early in the first half of the third round All-Ireland football qualifier. Galway are enjoying plenty of possession against Meath. So far so good. It's not the possession thats the problem. It's what they do with it. Simple passes to colleagues are on. Play it - now! Keep the flow. Build momentum. Establish a rhythm. Give your colleague confidence. Show your faith in him. Build sequences. Create trust. Assess - Decide - Execute. That's the formula.
But no. Passes are delayed for no strategic advantage. Momentum is lost. Everything is safe. Too safe. Too cautious. For no gain. Poor decision making leading to poor outcomes. Shortly after, Meath score two decisive goals. They don't lack clarity of purpose.
These are classic signs of a team not in harmony with each other. Good teams play the simple ball. They find their rhythm. That tempo dictates the movement of the ball. It becomes contagious. Everyone wants to get involved. Trust builds trust. It feels electric. Watch Manchester United at their best. It's all rhythm and tempo. Football you can set to music.
When players are not given the simple pass, you have to ask why? Does the player with the ball not trust their colleague with possession? Is this not in the game plan? Have the team been over coached? Over coached so that they can't make a decision for themselves. This can happen. Or are players frightened of making a mistake. Scared of the risky ball. Playing in a culture where mistakes are not tolerated?
All of this can have an impact on decision making. A simple game is made difficult. The team know it. Uncertainty prevails. Everything becomes a struggle. Compounded by defeat. Only straight talk and honest appraisal can rid the team dynamic of these unwelcome ghosts.
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