Monday, November 14, 2016

Modus Operandi

mo·dus op·e·ran·di
ˌmōdəs ˌäpəˈrandē/
  1. a particular way or method of doing something, especially one that is characteristic or well-established.

One of my players had the opportunity to play a round of golf with two LPGA professionals this fall.  She told me that it helped her a lot.  I asked her how and she answered that they stay the same.  They putt the same whether for par or for birdie.  They don't change their body language after a mistake or get more aggressive.  They seem to be casual between shots and focused in the shot.  She said they both did the same thing the entire round and both acted like true pros.  

Successful pros have a modus operandi.  They have a systematic way of acting, thinking and playing.  They move between mindsets and ways of doing things throughout their week.  Here are some examples:

Learner's Mindset
Great players are always striving to improve.  They want to learn new skills and sharpen and expand what they have.  The game of golf is endlessly challenging and fascinating and it's a perfect game for a player with a penchant for growth.


Awareness Mindset
Part of a pro's preparation is to constantly adjust to new golf courses.  They need to figure out the conditions, the grass, the bounce, the rolls, the wind, the speed, the sand and the logistics. The more quickly they learn and adjust each week, the greater their chances for winning.  They play and practice with a heightened awareness and pay close attention to what's happening to the golf ball.  They pay close attention to what they see and feel.  

Competitive Mindset 
On game day, great players give all they have to the shot at hand.  One of the best sports psychologists in professional golf sums it up nicely here.  Dr. Bob Rotella's checklist of the ten things that the pros do in competition is spot on.  They aren't all doing all things well at all times, but when they are, they will have a shot at winning.  Here is a link to his game day checklist.  

Problem-solving Mindset
Posting a score is the best feedback possible.  After a round, there needs to be thought that examines the good and bad and leads back to the preparation phase.  What strengths helped you?  How can you keep those sharp and use them effectively in the future?  What weaknesses held you back?  How can you improve them or play to avoid them?  This is a time for reflection, for honesty, for statistics and for feedback.   

How are you doing at moving in between these mindsets?  

Many players I've seen over the years get obsessed with problem-solving and can't seem to stay away from that mode.  In the middle of a competitive round, they begin to wonder what's going on, what needs to change, why they're messing up and how they need to hit the next shot. They've lost the competitive mindset and moved into problem solving.  

Allowing a problem-solving mindset to take over preparation isn't healthy either.  It reduces awareness in practice rounds and slows adjustment to the needs of the week.  At practice, it places focus on what's wrong instead of the goal for learning.  

Each mindset has it's place  The pros have learned to move between each to ensure their success. It takes discipline and self-awareness to do this successfully.  Here are some things you can do to improve your skills in choosing and staying in the proper mindset.

  1. Have a plan!  Decide what sort of day you need.  If you're headed to practice, embrace a learner's mindset.  Think about what skills you will work on and how you will  do it.  Make each shot important and be aware of what you learn.  Relate it to your goals.
  2. Keep a journal.  Write down what you did when you played great and see if you can develop positive patterns.  Keep track of bad days simply to understand what made it bad.  If you learn to separate yourself and your emotions from your score, you can learn to coach yourself in a positive way that allows you to create the circumstances that allow you to be successful.  
  3. Be symbolic.  Wear a "learner's hat" at practice.  At a competition, wear your best gear that you save for this day.  Clean your clubs the night before a competitive round and go through each hole's plan as you do it.  When you need to problem solve, go to Starbucks and order a cup of tea.  Confine your problem-solving to a place and time.  Figure out your symbols and triggers and have fun putting them into place.  

Work on your mindset and be in charge of your Modus Operandi as you work to become a great player.

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