What an exciting few months it’s been!
After last year’s musings about the Ryder Cup I’ve had the good fortune and pleasure to have spent time with one of the most influential and important gentlemen in the world of professional golf – Mr Andrew Chandler of International Sports Management (ISM).
Andrew is known in the media as ‘Chubby’. But the cuddliness of the nickname and the ever-smiling, photo-friendly face distracts the focus from his character. His understanding of his clients and strength of mind have allowed him to attract the best sporting talent in the world into his ISM family and create an environment that lets them thrive and blossom.
Chubby’s clients include Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, David Howell, Simon Dyson, George Coetzee and Chris Wood and ISM’s interests extend to cricket, racing and football.
Through Chubby I’ve had the opportunity to get to know and work with a range of ISM golfers from Champions through to gifted, young, soon-to-turn-pro amateurs.
The work I do with the players never goes anywhere near the technique and swing theory of golf. As a long-time-ago member of the PGA, I find that part of the sport fascinating but that’s not my remit.
What I do with the players is all about resourcefulness of thinking and understanding the nature and utilisation of thought. Understanding how thinking works and how we create our reality with it can have a profound effect on anybody’s performance, let alone a sportsman or woman making their living as a professional golfer!
At the highest levels of any endeavour – whether it’s in sport or in business – the differences in the observable skill levels of the top performers aren’t as great as you might imagine.
The differentiation in ball striking amongst the top 100 players in the world is quite small and remains relatively consistent. At the top level all the players are fabulous strikers. They are all fit, strong, skillful, dedicated and technically excellent.
The difference in mindset between players though – just as with us mortals – can be huge. And state of mind is something that’s continually shifting from week to week, from day to day, hour by hour, second by second.
Golf is a sport that, once a level of technical mastery is reached (a given with professionals), is a challenge where the winners demonstrate the highest quality of mind.
Ok. So what does ‘quality of mind’ mean?
Well it’s not thinking about alternatives to the hypothesis of ‘Dark Matter’ or creating nuclear power from egg yolks.
Quality of mind refers to our ability to utilise the thoughts that serve us well and ignore or reject those thoughts that don’t.
For example, a golfer playing a hole with an alligator infested lagoon down the right side of the hole may find thoughts such as, “don’t go right!” or “geez, I hate alligators” or “whatever you do, keep left, not right” or “where am I going to drop my ball after I’ve hit it in the swamp?” or even worse, “I’m not going to be toast – I’m gonna be lunch!” to be less than helpful. These are low quality thoughts.
On the other hand, thoughts such as, “a nice high soft draw aimed at the second tree on the left is perfect” or “I love this hole, the tee shot here is one of my favourites” are high quality thoughts. And high quality thinking has a direct impact on how the body physically responds to the requests made of it.
It’s a case of What the Thinker thinks, The Prover will prove.
If your Thinker thinks you’re a poor putter then your Prover will prove it by making you a poor putter. If your Conscious Mind believes you are a poor chipper then your subconscious will accept without question that you are a poor chipper and will bring your physiology into alignment with your thinking.
So maybe this makes a bit of sense but if it was that simple why doesn’t everybody do it?
Well just because it’s simple, it doesn’t mean it’s easy!
We all like a bit of evidence to support a theory – to make it easier for us to believe.
And belief is where it starts. And willingness. A willingness to consider the possibility that the way you currently think about things might not be the only way or even the best way to think about them. A willingness to trust the feedback your body gives when you ask it to (cue Twilight Zone music) is another key.
Here’s a bit of evidence for you:
I’ve been working with one of Chubby’s up and coming talents. Two weeks ago during a hypnosis session he played the first nine holes of his home golf course in his mind in nine under par. He called every shot before he played it and executed them in his mind. He took that thinking out on to the course that afternoon and played it for real in five under par. He told me he lipped out twice as well – and I believe him!
Last week I was on the range with a young player with great potential. This young man is slight of build but tall, very strong and with a very good golf swing. He is dedicated and hardworking but it appeared that some of the natural ‘joy’ and ‘art’ of his golf swing had been overshadowed by the weight of technique.
We spent a few minutes playing balancing games, visualisation games and playing imaginary shots with eyes closed. He used the visions he created in his mind to replace the commands he was giving himself.
He allowed his body to produce the type of shop he desired at will – he saw the shot in his mind, did his pre-shot routine, emptied his head and pulled the trigger. The shots he started playing with the ball in place were of a completely different quality – they were fabulous!
Oh, and by the way, he was hitting these shots with his eyes closed and reporting his feedback on how he felt the shot was executed from feel alone.
When he started playing with his eyes open again he was able to see as well as feel the difference.
Both these young players got their results from using their minds and their thinking in a way that supported them, was useful to them and got them what they wanted. That’s what Quality of Mind is.
So, is this relevant to anything else apart from sport?
Yer darn tootin’ it is!
It’s relevant to every aspect of life – at work, at home, with friends, with the family, out with the dog, and…
… at Amen Corner on Sunday at The Masters.
Ah, The Masters, when you’re watching it on the TV see if you can work out what kind of thinking each player’s Prover is proving!