What a comeback for Tiger Woods. In one of the more remarkable golf success stories of all-time, Woods won his fifth Masters title after an 11-year break between major wins.
Here are 4 keys to Woods greatness: 1) The Mental Golf Game Taught from the Start. Tiger’s late father Earl had a psychology degree from Kansas State University and worked on the mental game from a young age. Earl would create distractions to teach Tiger to remain focused. When Tiger was in the middle of his back-swing, Earl would jiggle some coins in his pocket or cough loudly.
“I actually started to ask him to do it. As a teen, I was playing against guys who hit the ball longer and were better than I was. The only way for me to get better was to get tougher. I figured I could challenge them on the mental level, be tougher and out think them,” Tiger recalled.
As young as age 14, Woods started working with a sports psychologist who taught him techniques for relaxation, visualization and mental focus. While other kids his age were watching television, Woods was watching motivational tapes and was doing mental drills to improve his focus.
2) Adaptability and Confidence to Change. Woods ability to stay focused, flexible and calm under pressure is one of his keys to success: His ability to adapt is one of his greatest strengths and he also hasn’t been afraid to mess with success. Twice during his career, Woods has re-worked his swing, something many lesser golfers wouldn’t dare try.
“People wondered why I made swing changes. You make changes to get better. I know have more shots than I’ve had which allows me to attack the course,” he said.
Woods has a keen understanding of swing mechanics and how to fix them: “You aren’t always going to have your best stuff. No one is going to help you inside the ropes to figure it out. You have to be ready to adjust.”
3) Self-motivated. According to Nike’s Phil Knight, “Tiger’s greatest weapon is his brain. You will not out-think Tiger. He studies. He learns. He’s always asking more questions. He still believes there is more for him to achieve.”
“I love winning and I hate losing,” Woods says. “That’s how my father was. My mother was even more fiery than my dad. That’s the kind of house I grew up in. You never backed down.”
Those who have been around Tiger have seen his legendary competitiveness – whether it’s playing cards, table tennis, or scuba diving – he always comes up with a challenge to make himself better.
4) Fitness fanatic. Woods training schedule involves hours of lifting weights, running or biking, along with practice on the driving range. Tiger is still 185 pounds of lean muscle, with a build ideally suited for a smooth, powerful swing that includes a big shoulder turn and a limited turn of the hips. Woods sparked a fitness revival in golf years ago in his prime, but few still out-work Tiger in the gym. That same cut physique was on display at the Masters Tournament. Now that he is older, he does more physical therapy and massage to help compensate for lingering back issues.
To get your golfers psychologically ready to compete at the highest level, check out Good to Great Golf, the only mental game golf book targeted to high school and college golfers.