By John Weir – Creator of Mental Golf Type
It seems that every day more and more professional and amateur athletes are speaking up about their mental health and the difficulties navigating the pressure and stress of competition. Finally, these athletes are openly discussing mental health topics like anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and so on instead of trying to hide it from the world. Professional teams employ sport psychologists and mental performance coaches to help their athletes deal with the unique pressures of professional sports and handling life as a public figure. However, most amateur athletes don’t get the luxury of working with top professionals and learning the necessary mental skills to succeed in a pressure filled environment. In fact, most think that mental development and training is exclusive to professional athletes, it’s not. Developing positive self-esteem, coping skills to deal with stress, and strengthening your mental gifts are essential for all athletes to not only perform their best, but handle the many difficulties experienced along the path in a healthy way.
Take a moment to think about all the challenges junior golfers are facing and how this can impact their mental health. Junior golfers are going to school and need to produce good grades in order to get an opportunity to get into a quality university. They are constantly dealing with other students, teachers, tests, assignments, homework, and more on a daily basis. Now add in golf and all that it takes to develop into a top performer. This requires practice, lessons, and a tremendous dedication of time. Like in academics, this route is filled with ups and downs throughout the learning process that a player must cope with. But, a junior golfer isn’t just building a golf swing they must also learn to compete and all that comes with being a competitive player. When a player competes, they must learn to deal with success, failures, and comments about their performance from others. If the junior player is a good player, then there are expectations they must contend with. They have the constant pressure of getting a scholarship offer from a top school and many worry a great deal if they are good enough to play at the next level. Finally, add in the normal life challenges experienced by teenagers during this period of growing up. As you can see just from this short list, taking care of mental health is not just for professionals, it’s for all athletes especially juniors.
It’s important that athletes avoid what we call “the boiled frog syndrome,” or when stress over time becomes too much that it effects the mental health of an athlete both on and off the course. It is essential that all junior golfers learn how to manage stress. The medical community reports that chronic stress is the root cause of 85% of illness and disease. And now, through Mental Golf Type, it has been revealed that the majority of performance issues on the golf course are also related to stress. Mental stress releases cortisol in the brain. The cortisol inhibits the motor cortex or the part of the brain responsible for movement and execution of the golf swing. Players underperform due to mental stress and are not even aware of it. They can than develop low self-esteem from poor performances and not knowing how to evaluate the round properly to grow from them. Over time this can lead an athlete into “boiled frog syndrome” and requiring him/her guidance from a professional to help overcome the internal struggles.
Many people are unaware that there are 16 different personality types or 16 different ways your mind could be hard-wired at birth. Each personality type has built-in mental strengths and weaknesses that will stay with a person throughout their entire life. Just like you are born either right-handed or left-handed, one being dominant and the other inferior, your personality actually indicates which mental preferences are dominant and which are inferior. This is important for everyone to understand because your stress is predictable based on your personality type. Through knowing your personality type, you can recognize the subtle indicators of stress and shift out of it quicker through approaching the situation using your natural strengths. This stops the flow of cortisol and the stress hormones in the brain. Failure to recognize and shift from stress eventually leads to poor physical and mental health due to long term stress, and ultimately boiled frog syndrome.
In addition, what stresses you as a parent could be much different than what stresses your junior athlete. Different personality types get stressed by different things, and thus will need specific strategies best suited to their personality type, to effectively overcome the stress. The less stress a person has the greater their mental health.
The earlier a player can learn about how their mind operates as well as effective coping mechanisms to stress, the better. Mental Golf Type is a recommended program that provides junior players the opportunity to do both. First, it identifies their Mental Golf Type and personality within minutes. Second, it informs players of their natural mental gifts and their predictable stressors. Finally, it teaches them through golf how to utilize their natural strengths and develop them more. How to recognize stress and what to do to correct it. All of which fosters greater self-esteem, greater mental health, and better overall performance.
Best of all, players can get their results for free at www.mentalgolftype.com and get access to 30 minutes of free training on how stress impacts performance. Through Mental Golf Type, your junior athlete can learn the skills to effectively deal with stress that will carry over into all aspects of their life, from the golf course to the classroom.
Whether you use a program like Mental Golf Type or something similar, it is important to get junior athletes on the path to strong mental health as early as possible.