Physically Played, Mentally Won Mental performance coach Mary Kate Tatum can help golfers train their brain to handle pressure
Whether you are angling for a college scholarship, hoping to earn a spot on the PGA Tour or LPGA Tour or simply hoping to shoot the lowest score during your weekly business golf outing, finding that mental and physical balance is key.
Mary Kate Tatum is a licensed mental health counselor and mental performance coach well-versed in unlocking some of the integral aspects of the game within the game.
“There’s a common saying that sports are physically played but mentally won,” says Tatum, who runs her professional practice in North Palm Beach. “When you study the top 1 percent of the talented, they have a different set of mental toughness skills than everyone else.”
One major difference between the arenas in which Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan thrived is that basketball, like baseball, football, and hockey, is a team sport where each player can feed off of his teammates and coaches, and golf of course is an individual sport. It’s basically you against the course and the elements.
The five main attributes of mental toughness required
for successful golf:
- Be confident
- Reject fear
- Be self-aware
- Stay in the right now
- Remember your “Why”
Get more information by calling 561.908.4858 or visiting tranquilsoulcounseling.com
Tatum also points out that in golf you are putting together an average score over a number of holes or rounds, so every shot counts as opposed to being able to erase a large deficit in the fourth quarter of a football game. The pressure on each swing of the club is considerably higher.
“Golf is much more mentally challenging because you carry the whole game with you all by yourself,” she says. “So how do you get mentally tough for golf as opposed to just practicing your chip shot or whatnot? It’s kind of the same thing where it’s repetition, but it’s mental repetition and it’s training your brain to do the logical thing in the state of high emotion over and over and over as fast as possible.
“Humans, we’re kind of fear-based beings so we tend to over-analyze and our brain is not able to focus on a single thing when it’s overcome with a lot of fear and worry. The first thing that we want to do over and over again is reject the fear, stay positive, and focus solely on that shot every time.”
The practice of playing the game or the course mentally in your head before actually going out there is also something that Tatum subscribes to, and she incorporates this into her training. She preaches not only visualizing the actual shot or series of shots ahead of time but also visualizing where you will be mentally in the moment.
Tatum’s expertise and methods can be applied to golfers at every level and she’s able to boil it down to a common idea that can be implemented for every type of situation, be it in the final round of The Masters or on the final hole with the rest of your friendly foursome at the local public golf course.
“There’s pressure in every situation, so the kicker is that no matter where the pressure is coming from, the key is the same, which is being able to tune into the logical part of your brain no matter what the emotion is telling you,” Tatum explains. “It’s easier said than done, so the best way to practice it is every time you have a shot that doesn’t go like you want it to, you immediately leave it behind and immediately focus on the next one.
“When you can switch your brain from fear or frustration to positivity the fastest, and you do that over and over and over, it becomes almost like flipping a switch.”