by Iain Highfield, Director of Mental Performance
I remember the day I left for college very well. I had so many of my belongings crammed into my tiny car that my bed sheets, lamp shade and rugby kit threatened to pop out the sunroof like a jack in the box!
Fortunately, this did not happen and I made the 90 minute drive up the freeway (or motorway as we call it in England) safely, ready to begin my 4 year degree and play college level rugby.
Unfortunately I failed to pack 3 things into my car that day. I left behind 3 mental skills that are vital components to you becoming the best you can be.
So future college golfers, I urge you to learn from my mistakes, as well as assessing your suitcase for your toiletries, clothes and favorite cuddly toy, ask yourself what kind of mindset are you taking to college? If any of the following skills are missing from your mental suitcase (or brain), don’t worry, it’s not to late to attempt to develop them.
Have a question for Iain? Want to ask about his favorite cuddly toy? Click here.
Mastery orientated goals are going to focus you on getting a little bit better every day. Decide on the skills you want to improve and become obsessed with these. This will help you live in an internally motivated world that is driven by task accomplishment. The best way to do this is leave your ‘ego’ at home, stop wanting to be better than others and stop wanting to prove that you can win. Wanting to impress others will lead to lack of enjoyment and a decrease in motivation. Mastery goals will allow you to enjoy the challenge of constant self improvement and set you up for long term success.
The Ability to Be Your Own Best Coach
Its all about to change! Your mother is no longer there to check that your golf bag has water and bananas in and your coach is not there to ‘fix’ the slice you are hitting 20 minutes before you tee off. In my experience college coaches do an exceptional job helping athletes become autonomous. However if you are not taking any understanding of how to be a self sufficient athlete to college, this new found responsibility could come as a real shock.
I would suggest you find some time and educate yourself on how to set up an effective practice session that will help you learn and improve (see: don’t beat a thousand balls until you build a false confidence that all is okay). I would also suggest you create a habit of reflecting on each practice session and tournament round, perhaps keep a journal focusing on what you did well and where potential areas for development lie. Finally, if you have never kept stats, start. Reading and understanding statics can help you with all of the above and is expected at the collegiate level.
A Growth mindset
Science has proven that the human brain and human body are adaptable, therefore ability is not fixed. Physical and mental skills can be developed through this gift of human adaptability. People who understand this have what is called a growth mindset and will, embrace challenges, persist during set backs, value effort over results and learn from criticism. People who have a fixed mindset do not develop these characteristics of psychological excellence and believe that they simply have less ‘natural talent’ than others.
Going to college with a fixed mindset will not set you up for success. It will impact your ability to become your own best coach and focus on mastery goals among many other things. However, to those of you with a fixed mindset, the good news is this, it is possible to change your world view and its starts with believing that your college journey is not about achieving your potential, it is about changing it.