A Friend is Honoured By Volleyball Nova Scotia

In the past, I had the great fortune of being introduced to a fantastic coach and teacher. Morgan Snow was a volleyball coach in rural Nova Scotia who constantly developed fantastic volleyball players and overall nice young women and men. My daughter played under his tutelage and a went on to play University volleyball and Nipissing in North Bay, Ontario. Morgan has touched the lives of many a young volleyball player and was finally recognized for his outstanding guidance to the volleyball and local community. Congratulations Morgan!

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The Mental Challenges of “Can’t” in Golf

Lost and Confused Signpost

Golf is all Mental!

The mental challenges in golf are vast and numerous! What distinguishes an average player from a great player is usually their mental toughness. The ability to have laser like focus when required is something that is honed over time. There are a few who have the innate ability to be mentally strong, but for the most of us, mental toughness must be nurtured and developed.

Through my many years of playing sports, I have developed a keen competitive edge that has served me extremely well. Like other athletes, I have played at the élite level in several sports with much success. However, the great times have also been marred with periods of self-doubt and lack of confidence. These dark times always started with one small insignificant word that has the ability to wreak devastation in its path. That word is “Can’t”!

I must have heard this word 10,000 times in my 50+ years of life! But, the greatest negative effect this word has is when I use it against myself.

Years back, a volleyball coach that I knew, always told his players “you are right, you Can’t” if they used that negative word. He told the young athletes that as soon as they say they can’t do something, their mind and body will immediately agree. He further explained that the biggest effect of that word lies in the six inches of real estate between their ears!

This coach’s teachings have stuck with me through the years. He taught me that being mentally strong is extremely important to any athlete. Last year was a great year for me on the links. There are some things I still have challenges accomplishing, but last year’s successes, as I worked towards being a scratch golfer, helped remove the word “Can’t” from my vocabulary.

This does not mean that I am successful all the time, but ‘by removing that word that shall not be spoken’ the doors of possibility stay open. Last year, I tried learning to shape the ball last year with mixed success; I tried chipping the ball with a new stance with greater success; and I stayed focused on the positive aspects of my game with the best results of all. Through this entire journey, I slowly reduced my self-doubt and increased my confidence on the links.

The greatest success story of last year was the improvement in my mental toughness.

I am no longer afraid of tough lies, hitting into the green from 200 yards, or playing over water into the wind. I found that using the word “CAN” helped improve my game significantly. Now, I did have some challenging times and that bad word did try to creep back into my mind, but I quickly vanquished it with a positive attitude and positive self-talk.

Golf offers many challenges when a player has any self-doubt. As I told my friend Brian from All About Golf, I am going improve my game by focusing 70% of my efforts on the mental side of golf. I believe that removing “that negative word” is the first place to start. I am mentally preparing to be a scratch golfer and it all starts here and now!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

Golf is an Elite Sport

This was a fantastic week! I am grateful for the opportunity to watch my daughter play at the Canadian Forces National Volleyball Championship. It brought back fond memories of her days in high school and university when my wife and I traveled weekend after weekend watching her play. It was then that my wife and I understood the term “bottomless coffee cup”, but that is a story for another day. As years progressed, her skill level improved; also her desire to play volleyball at the elite level blossomed.

Blocking The Ball

Watching these players spike, dig, serve, and volley was thrilling. These young elite athletes live and die by each play. Etched on their faces was elation or agony depending on the result. If asked, these players would describe the countless hours of training on and off the court; the endless hours of learning new skills; the plethora of social events missed willingly sacrificed because of their dedication to the sport they love!

Sitting in the bleachers, I wondered if golf has the same dedicated athletes. The obvious answer is yes. But, do the elite golfers experience the same challenges as volleyball players. As with all sports, golfers have to put in the time, dedication and sacrifices to be successful at the elite level. Their passion is a bit less overt, however the drive to the top of their sport equals that of volleyball.

Golf is an elite sport. Not because it is difficult to play at the elite level; not because the swing mechanics is as complex as advanced calculus; or not because the mental stresses of 4+ hours of competition would even challenge the concentration of the Dali Lama! Golf is an elite sport because of the road to the top. The years of training, learning and dedication does ape all other sports. A parallel can be drawn from any sport to golf. Golf is elite in every aspect, in fact, golf eclipses all sports as “the” elite sport. Wonder why?

Golfers are considered elite athletes into their 60s. Anyone can become an elite golfer regardless of his or her current state of ability. Anyone can start golfing at any age and be successful. Golf accepts everyone. There are no height, speed, or strength restrictions. Anyone can swing a club and become an elite golfer if they are willing to put in the time, dedication and have the willingness to change.

Golf is an elite sport. It appeals to the masses and turns no one away. The process to greatness is the same as other sports. If you decide that being an elite golfer is in your future – the only question is “what are you willing to do to achieve this goal?”

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

Focused Putting

Have you ever played a round of golf when you could not sink a putt? Most of you said ‘of course’! Have you ever played a round of golf when you seemed to drain your putts from everywhere? A few less ‘of course’ was just spoken. What was the difference between the two rounds? Most will say the mental game was the difference and that would be true, however I suggest it was your focus when putting.

On the days when they are putting awesome, most players will sink or lag their putts on their first two greens. Suddenly, the player is feeling ‘it’ (what ever it is) and they start to pay closer attention to the factors of the green that are important to making great putts. But, why do most golfers wait until they have a good start before practicing focused putting.

Other sports have the same moment during the game when the player must focus differently. In basketball – the free throw; in tennis – the serve; in darts – doubling out; and in volleyball – the serve; all of these sports require a focused effort to perform a specific skill; golf is no different.

Focused putting can be achieved by anyone at any time. It is a simple skill. It all starts on the practice range. I talked about the 3-6-9 putting drill in earlier posts and that will definitely help; but the skill for focused putting is a pre-shot routine! It is important to develop a pre-shot routine to trigger your entire body and mind that focused putting is required. This routine is yours alone and there is no wrong way to do it. Watch Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson, two completely different styles with a similar result.

Like other sports, a pre-shot routine is very important to duplicate success. Do you have a pre-shot routine for putting? If not, why not?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!