Updated: Feb 14
Winning is a decision but how is it accomplished?
The definition of mental conditioning is:
1: relating to the mind.
con·di·tion·ing | \ kən-ˈdi-sh(ə-)niŋ \
1: the process of training to become physically fit by a regimen of exercise, diet, and rest.
If you combine the two definitions, mental conditioning is a process of training your mind to modify your thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs to accept thinking patterns, tendencies and/or mental states in order to optimize positive thinking and ultimately optimize your performance.
If you listen to anyone who has won a major golf championship, they did it because they stayed focused, they stayed in the moment. They never worried about the missed shots or what lie ahead instead they think about what’s in front of them.
For instance, Preston and Grace Summerhays, are among the nation’s top male and female junior golfers. Preston won back-to-back Utah State Amateur Golf titles and became the youngest player in 101 years to be a repeat champion at the event, eclipsing his uncle Daniel Summerhays’ then-age 17 in 2001. He shot a record 19-under on a 65-60 in two rounds in the 2019 U.S. Amateur Championship qualifier. He shot 64 for the pre-qualifying round in the 2018 Waste Management Open playing against 110 people, 85 of them pros. Preston’s biggest achievement to date is winning the 2019 U.S. Junior Championship, which qualified him to play in the U.S. Open Championship at Wingfoot 2020 (delayed due to COVID-19), where he will tee up alongside the world’s best professionals.
As for Grace, she had the most points in the 15-18 age group in Arizona junior golf as a 14-year-old based on wins or placements before heading to Utah for summer. Her lowest competitive score is 65. On, July 9, her 15th birthday, she became the youngest player in Utah State Men’s Amateur history to qualify match play, shooting an even par 72 on a 7,350-yard course as the only female on board.
According to their Chaparral coaches, the biggest improvement to their games this summer was their mental toughness. Both Preston and Grace have always loved golf and loved to go with their dad, Boyd Summerhays @boydsummerhaysgolf (PGA coach to Tony Finau) for the practice rounds, warm-ups and post round work. Their mental toughness was developed by their father coaching them. They just go out there and look like they love playing the game of golf. If they hit a bad shot, it doesn’t phase them. They just go on to the next shot which is extremely important.
Conditioning isn’t about feeding your brain new information or how you brainwash yourself, it’s about creating a training routine for your mind. It is a way of controlling your thoughts -- focus.
Just like conditioning your body, conditioning your mind is about repeating the same “exercise” until you get stronger. Your specific ritual might differ, but the basic keys to conditioning your mind remain the same. This is what turns average players into champions.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to listen to players who have lost golf championships you will definitely hear the same sentiments over and over again, “I couldn’t focus”, I started thinking of what happened at the last hole, what happened on the course yesterday, losing the last tournament or starting to think about what I needed to win instead of focusing of being in the moment, relaxing and enjoying the game.
We all have things in our day to day lives that we need to contend with (sadness, depression, fear, etc.) especially these days. These are things that can potentially challenge you and prevent you or block you from being in the right mindset while on the field. Mindset is first a choice. Once you’ve made the choice to train your mind, get mentally tough, you are definitely on your way to greatness.
A lot has been said of how Tiger’s father, Earl Woods (US Special Forces in the Vietnam War) trained Tiger to be the most mentally tough athlete, by trying to throw him off and distract him while practicing This method of training is often referred to as single point focus, focusing on what matters which is the building block of becoming mentally tough.
Remember guys, relentless focus is a decision. Let’s get tough! Choose to win on the field and in life. Get focused!