Improve Golf Performance, Resilience, and Human Character

By on 12th May 2016
Payne Stewart Quote

Cultivation of Humility as a Technique not only to Improve Human Character and Resilience but as an Application for Performance Enhancement

 

Very few professional athletes possess a genuine dispositional humility. Of course, major reasons exist in modern life that would seem to discourage the development of humility. There are strong media messages that suggest a connection between arrogance and achievement. Young athletes are often run over by narratives about the necessity of confidence over all other traits. Certainly, many of our most successful athletes, who serve as exemplars and are the most familiar subjects in the popular press, would be poor role models for humility. It is certainly much more common to see the best athletes portrayed in the media as not only being supremely confident but also having disdain for competitors, and scrambling to take the credit for winning, even in the absence of tangible evidence for their role in producing the victory, as well as blatantly ignoring the contributions of other team members, fortuitous mistakes by the opponent, or just plain luck.

 

These facts are quite paradoxical, as empirical evidence would certainly indicate that there are many compelling reasons not to adopt such arrogance. Studies are clear in demonstrating that there is greater danger in the human performance realm for having “illusions of competence” than having minor confidence problems. Research demonstrates that fans, as well as teammates, actually do not like players who take more of the credit than they deserve. The public will nearly always experience a sense of pleasure, exhilaration or ‘Schadenfreude’ when an arrogant player fails. In contrast to images in the popular media, research shows a connection between modesty and higher performance. Highly confident students are much more likely to perform more poorly than less confident students, and to be shocked at their failure, possibly increasing their difficulties because of high expectations.

 

In my practice of sports psychology, I have consistently observed that the absence of humility presents complications for teams, management, and individual team members. Many teams suffer, even in the presence of modest success, because players will scramble so feverishly after a team victory to take credit for the team’s success, feeling that the rewards for winning are scarce and decidedly evanescent. Arrogant players have a pathological competitiveness and a sense of “zero sum” results, even inside their own team environment.

 

The careful and modest assessment of one’s own skills enables a player to determine how best to allocate his efforts in training and how to better predict if he will master the challenge he confronts in the game situation, which results in better game performance because players choose goals and strategies that better fit their skill mastery. Arrogance and overconfidence invariably fool a player into thinking that he can perform a low percentage play, or that can master difficult skill components. Players who can modestly assess their skills rarely fail because they try to execute a low percentage play. Arrogant players often get caught up in ego games because they are more concerned with how their performance looks to others. This situation can cause choking because attention is diverted away from the working memory that helps us to perform under pressure. Instead arrogant players’ attention is too easily focused on ego needs and the consequences of their success or failure.

 

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Dr. Fran Pirozzolo is a licensed consulting psychologist who has worked with many of the world’s top athletes and is currently the Mental Skills Coach for the Texas Rangers Baseball Club. Dr. Pirozzolo was the Mental Skills Coach for the New York Yankees from 1996 - 2002, winning 4 World Championships. Pirozzolo has also worked with the Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers, for the NFL’s Houston Texans, and for the Heavyweight Champion of the World, Evander Holyfield, among others. Dr. Pirozzolo has been worked with collegiate athletic departments, including the University of Texas (men’s & women’s golf), Fordham University (basketball), University of Oklahoma (golf), Texas A&M University (men’s & women’s golf), Rice University (golf), Texas Christian University (golf) and the University of Houston (golf, baseball, basketball). Dr. Pirozzolo has published 14 books and over 250 scientific and popular articles. His golf books include “Game I Love” (Harper Collins) with golf legend Sam Snead, “The Mental Game Pocket Companion” (Harper Collins), “The Putter's Pocket Companion” (Harper Collins). Fran collaborated with Jim McLean on the Golf Channel production of Sam Snead: "A Swing For A Lifetime". Fran’s most recent book is entitled, “Multiple Intelligences and Leadership (Series in Organization and Management)” (with scholars Ron Riggio and Susan Murphy at the Kravis Leadership Institute – Claremont-McKenna College) Dr. Pirozzolo also has done a mental training for golf CD entitled “Golf Mind”.

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About Dr Fran Pirozzolo

Dr. Fran Pirozzolo is a licensed consulting psychologist who has worked with many of the world’s top athletes and is currently the Mental Skills Coach for the Texas Rangers Baseball Club. Dr. Pirozzolo was the Mental Skills Coach for the New York Yankees from 1996 - 2002, winning 4 World Championships. Pirozzolo has also worked with the Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers, for the NFL’s Houston Texans, and for the Heavyweight Champion of the World, Evander Holyfield, among others. Dr. Pirozzolo has been worked with collegiate athletic departments, including the University of Texas (men’s & women’s golf), Fordham University (basketball), University of Oklahoma (golf), Texas A&M University (men’s & women’s golf), Rice University (golf), Texas Christian University (golf) and the University of Houston (golf, baseball, basketball). Dr. Pirozzolo has published 14 books and over 250 scientific and popular articles. His golf books include “Game I Love” (Harper Collins) with golf legend Sam Snead, “The Mental Game Pocket Companion” (Harper Collins), “The Putter's Pocket Companion” (Harper Collins). Fran collaborated with Jim McLean on the Golf Channel production of Sam Snead: "A Swing For A Lifetime". Fran’s most recent book is entitled, “Multiple Intelligences and Leadership (Series in Organization and Management)” (with scholars Ron Riggio and Susan Murphy at the Kravis Leadership Institute – Claremont-McKenna College) Dr. Pirozzolo also has done a mental training for golf CD entitled “Golf Mind”.

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