Performance Excellence Center & Dr. Eddie O'Connor
April 2010
Hello Friends,

On Monday Tiger will make his long-awaited return to golf.  How will he play?  What impact will life distractions play?  How will he handle the fans?  Read on ...

Will Tiger Master the Masters?

Dr. Eddie O'Connor, Performance Excellence Center
Tiger will have many distractions to deal with next week. Will they prove to be too much? Tiger has been the model of mental toughness for years. His ability to focus has been his trademark. His mental toughness will be tested at the Masters.  Here are a few things to watch out for:

Focus on the Present Moment

When executing a golf swing, both the past and future are major distractions for us all. The past is over and we can't change it. The future isn't here yet and we can't control it. The only thing that matters is execution of the swing. The better Tiger can lock into the here and now and "one shot at a time" mindset, the better he will play.

Consistently Use Pre-Swing and Pre-Putt Routines
The best way to stay in the moment is commitment to routines. Routines are a set of consistent behaviors athletes use to prepare them to perform their best. Elements of a routine may include a way to line up the shot, a deep breath for relaxation, or imagery to increase confidence and focus. Routines bring a sense of familiarity in pressure situations and allow your swing to be more automatic. Tiger's ability to play well will depend on his use of pre-swing routines.

What Others are Saying ...
I spoke with local golf guru Scott Seifferlein of Grand Rapids Golf Lesson to get his thoughts on Tiger's return:
Dr. Eddie: How will the layoff affect his swing? 

Scott: The basic fundamentals of Tiger's swing will be just as solid as they were when he left the game last fall. One of Tiger's biggest swing challenges will be his tempo. Over the last several years Tiger's swing ratio has been relatively consistent at around 20/7.  Meaning his back swing takes 20 video frames and his downswing takes 7 video frames...After coming back from a long layoff it's more of a challenge to get the tempo of the golf swing back. So if we see him come out of the gate with a 19/7 tempo or a 20/8 tempo, he will struggle to keep the ball in the fairway.

Dr. Eddie: How will not playing any "warm-up" tournaments affect his performance in Augusta?

Augusta was the obvious "return" event for Tiger...He is most comfortable there...But it's a major, and it now comes with added pressure and distractions. The last time Tiger came back from a long layoff that was "family" and "emotionally" related, he missed the cut [2006 U.S. Open]. I expect no lapse of skill ... but I do expect an emotional imbalance, and that, my friends, will be the difference between a one-shot victory and third place. Sorry Tiger, but this year, I'll be picking somebody else.
But another sport psychologist disagrees with Scott's expectation of emotional imbalance. Dr. Gio Valiante, author of Fearless Golf: Conquering the Mental Game, said in a recent New York Times article that he doesn't expect Tiger to miss a beat:
When Tiger said, 'The strength I feel now, I've never felt that type of strength,' Valiante said, 'it told me you can just forget everything else ...he's feeling a freedom.'  ... In 45 days of therapy, Woods has found the type of strength that comes when 'you strip away rationalization, when you strip away denial, when you strip away ego,' Valiante added.
I agree. Elite athletes have lives outside of their chosen sport.  And while the most mentally tough athletes can block out life distractions, at some level they still carry their personal lives with them on the course. It is possible that if Tiger has truly unburdened himself of this emotional weight, he could be back and better than ever. It may not show up in Augusta, but the potential for an outstanding season lies ahead.
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In the Media

Can Tiger Master the Masters? 
Fox 17 News [3/18/10]

How Can Tiger Clear His Head?
West MI's Morning News with Gary Allen & Steve Kelly

Tiger Woods' Return to Golf
WZZM 13 with Juliet Dragos [3/16/10]

Dodgeball: Why Adults Play Kids' Games
Fox 17 News [3/8/10]

The X Factor in Soccer 
eightWest with Rachael Ruiz & Terri DeBoer [3/4/10]

Helicopter Parents Ruin Sports 
Fox 17 News [3/2/10]

More tips and interviews >  

Future Workshops

Mental Toughness
Skills & Drills

April 19, 2010
6:30-9:00 pm

Join Dr. Eddie for thiis active one-evening workshop of mental toughness drills.  Athletes will participate in physical and mental exercises that teach the mental skills necessary for success, such as focus, goal-setting, striving for excellence, teamwork, rebounding from mistakes, and emotional control. Develop the skills that will improve your performance this season. Ages 13+.

East Grand Rapids
Parks & Rec Department
Program Room 101
$16 resident
$21 non-resident

To register: 616.949.1740
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