The mind dictates a large percentage of performance, there is no way around it. How does Ricky Wysocki putt so well? His mind. He mentally had the drive and determination to clock in the hours of practice, the mental focus in practice and competition, and built up a massive amount of confidence in his putting ability. What makes Paul Mcbeth a player to be feared on the course, even from the 4th card? His fierce competitiveness and will to win. I'd compare it to the great Michael Jordan.
My sports psychology professor in college argued that sport performance is 20% physical and 80% mental. Once I graduated and started training athletes, I learned exactly how right he was. Even though I was creating exercise programs and teaching athletes psychical exercises, I found that a majority of my coaching was spent developing their mind. Teaching them the value of hard work, consistency, focus and drive, intrinsic motivation, etc. The athletes would either already had the mental tools to succeed or developed them, were usually the athletes would improved the most. Of all the athletes I trained, the college athletes and the athletes who showed collegiate potentially were all mentally stronger.
Probably the biggest mental factor that I work on with athletes and other clients is the limits they mentally place on themselves. As humans, we constantly place limits on ourselves of what we think we are capable of doing. Once we break past that limit, whether by seeing someone else do it or by going for it ourselves and succeeding, our belief of what is possible changes. One of the classic examples in athletics is the 4-minute mile. It was thought to be impossible until in 1954 Roger Bannister came along and broke the barrier. Since that time, thousands of people have run sub 4-minute miles, including high school kids. It's now considered a standard for professional runners. Did humans evolve in 60 years to be significantly better at running a mile? No, it was only once we were shown that it was possible. They walked up to the starting line knowing that it had be done and believing that they could do it.
I could go on and on about the importance of the mental game, specific attributes, and how to develop them. I could dedicate a whole website to it. There are thousands of books you could read about improving your performance with your mind in disc golf and all aspects of your life. I will write more about it in future blogs but for today I want to share 3 of my favorites specifically for sport. Read them but also make sure to practice them. The mind is plastic meaning that it is flexible and capable of changing and growing. Apply the principles and practices into your life and they'll become habit.
Another suggestion is to listen to the audio books. This is a great way to learn and grow while in the car driving, exercising, or even playing a round by yourself. I'll often listen to audio books or podcasts during my commute. Get two free audio books with a free trial on Audible by clicking the link below.
The Champion's Mind
How Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive
I first heard about this book from one of my college athletes. Her coach required all of the players to read it over the summer before showing up for preseason. Curious about the book, I bought it shortly after. It's an excellent read for any athlete. It talks about the tools the most elite performers use to stand out above the rest and are able to outperform in clutch, game-deciding moments. He uses stories and examples of what Olympic champions and other top professionals use to be successful at the most elite level of their sport. He teaches you how to develop the mental game during practice and also what to do in competition and clutch moments.
Thinking Body, Dancing Mind
TaoSports for extraordinary performance in athletics, business, and life
I learned about this book from the sports psychology professor I mentioned earlier. He worked with a lot of the college athletes at my university. This was the book he let hundreds of them borrow. I believe he owned 3 copies. It helped them perform better in their sport and also balance between their sport, school, and life. The book connects the powers of the mind, body, and spirit to unlock extraordinary performances in all aspects of life. It provides guides, visualizations, exercises, and affirmations. It's broken down into 6 sections:
Every Day is Game Day
Train like the pros with a no-holds-barred exercise and nutrition plan for peak performance
This book is not specifically for mental performance but rather a comprehensive plan of mental, nutrition, and exercise plan for peak performance. I'm including this book in this list because the mindset in this book is excellent. Not only will you get information for mental performance but also nutrition and fitness from the founder of one of the leading athlete performance brands, EXOS. The platform of performance in this book is broken down into 4 pillars: Prepare for it (mindset), fuel for it (nutrition), train for it (movement), and rest for it (recovery).
In the mindset section, he talks about finding and defining your IT. Your it is your purpose/why. Once you define that, you are ready for the other 3 pillars.
One of my favorite quotes in this book is:
It's not just about showing up every day, working hard, and doing the right things. That's great. That's expected. Performance is about showing up everyday AND hitting the bull's-eye REGARDLESS of the situation.
I hope you check out these three books. They will improve your game and life. I would love to hear stories from you about how they impacted your game and the improvements you made from the applications you made from these 3 books.