Mind Over Mechanics: Lessons from the Fairway to the Field

Uncategorized Feb 29, 2024

Introduction: In the world of sports, the mental game often outweighs the physical. This edition of the Between the Pipes Newsletter explores how the mental disciplines of golf—a game of patience, precision, and individuality—mirror the challenges faced by lacrosse goalies. We'll delve into three core principles that champions in both fields adhere to for success: focusing on what can be controlled, the power of mindlessness, and the courage to play one's own game.

  1. Defining Success Around Things You Can Control Golf Perspective: Golfers face myriad variables—weather, course conditions, the crowd. The best golfers narrow their focus to what they can control: their swing, their strategy, and their response to each shot. World #1 Scottie Scheffler had this to say “How I define success has always been my approach,” Scheffler said. “If I show up to tournaments and I'm prepared and I'm ready to play and I show up with a good attitude and a good approach, so that means not getting too frustrated, not overthinking things, just trying to go out there and execute the shot and controlling what I can control, and that's my approach. Once I hit the ball, I can't control whether or not the putt's going to go in, whether it's going to hit a bounce and bounce offline or if I'm going to get gusted by the wind. All I can control is my approach, and when my approach and attitude are great, then that's a successful week. That's pretty much my top priority at all times.” via Golf Digest

 Lacrosse Goalie Takeaway: Like golfers, lacrosse goalies can't control the speed of the shot or the decisions of their opponents. Instead, the key is to focus on things can control – having fun, showing up mentally and physically prepared and being solutions oriented (focused on what you want and not what you didn’t do). There is so much within a lacrosse game that goalies can’t control, by focusing on what you can control, the success you want will take care of itself.

Key Insight: Control your controllables. Whether it's the grip on your club or the stance in the goal, mastery starts with focusing on the elements within your direct influence.

  1. Embracing Mindlessness: The Art of Letting Go Golf Perspective: Overthinking during a swing can lead to mistakes. Golfers often speak of "the zone," a state of mind where actions flow from muscle memory and training, free from the paralysis of analysis. In a study done by cognitive scientist Sian Beilock, they had skilled golfers attempt to sink putts under different experimental conditions. One set of golfers was asked to pay attention to their swing and say “stop” when they finished their swing. The other was asked to listen for a random target sound and asked to say the word “tone” when they heard the sound. The skilled golfers performed substantially worse when they focused on their swing than when they paid attention to irrelevant sounds. The effect of paying attention to their swing was so damaging that the golfers actually did better when they were warming up before the experiment began. See article here

Lacrosse Goalie Takeaway: Similarly, a goalie benefits from entering a state of mindlessness where the body reacts based on practiced instincts, allowing them to make split-second saves without the hindrance of overthinking. Often goalies get bogged down with the details of positioning, mechanics or what happens pre-shot. At the end of the day however, most goalies will tell you, when they don’t think, they play their best!

Key Insight: Trust in the training. Both on the green and in the goal, the best plays come from a mind free of clutter, allowing instincts and training to take the lead.

  1. Playing Your Own Game: Authenticity in Action Golf Perspective: Golf is an individual sport at its core. Success comes from playing your own game, focusing on your strengths, and not getting distracted by competitors, spectators and fans of the game. World #1 Scottie Scheffler goes by a simple mantra: “What other people think is none of my business.” He goes on to say that having a good day comes down to two things: "Don't be offendable," and being "unembarrassable." If you're not concerning yourself about what other people think of you, then it's almost impossible to be offended by anything they might say, or worry about embarrassing yourself in front of them. via Golf Digest

Lacrosse Goalie Takeaway: Like golfers, goalies must trust in their unique style and strengths. Playing your own game means not being swayed by the style or opinions of others, nor fearing the judgment that comes with risks and mistakes. You’re going to get scored on plain and simple and goals are always worth 1 pt. Instead of worrying about what your teammates or coaches think about you, be yourself, have a plan to deal with it and move on!

Key Insight: Authenticity breeds excellence. Embrace your unique skills and approach, whether you're facing down a fairway or guarding the goal.

Conclusion: The mental game is where champions are made, both in golf and lacrosse. By focusing on what we can control, embracing the power of mindlessness, and having the courage to play our own game, athletes can find success on any playing field. Let these lessons be a guide, from the tee to the crease, as you pursue your personal best.


50% Complete

Two Step

I am Tim Cassi ......