„There is no breakthrough without a breakdown.” – Tony Robbins
During the 2011 Masters, Rory McIIroy held a four shot lead at the beginning of the final round. He still had the lead on the 10th hole, but yanked his drive way left into the trees, made triple bogey, shot 80, and finished 15th.
Dustin Johnson held the lead at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by three shots. At the second hole, he tried a flop shot, in which he barely made contact with the ball, made triple bogey, shot 82, and finished t-8th.
At the 2010 PGA Championship, Nick Watney held a three shot lead heading into the final round. He made double bogey at the first hole, shot 81, and finished t-18th.
These top players all experienced a collapse, caused by one shot. Each of these leaders followed their poor shot and hole with extended bad play. They could not recover.
These players confirmed the catastrophe model of anxiety.68
When under extreme stress and anxiety, one bad play or shot causes a steep decline or complete drop-off in performance. The anxiety levels spike so high causing the athlete to have to manage the anxiety, rather than the task at hand.
Unfortunately under the highest of stress conditions, it only takes one poor play or bad shot for everything to deteriorate and performance to break down dramatically. These players did not choke; they collapsed. Choking involves over-thinking, becoming overly conscious to control every movement, and playing not to mess up. A collapse on the other hand, involves the inability to accurately think. They were all left thinking, „what just happened?”
These professional athletes at the top of their game, on the biggest stage, experienced what all of us will experience at some point. They had a temporary defeat. Whatever your passion, if you are all-in, you?ll experience times of pressure and stress similar to these. The key is how you re-focus.
What I see in athletics is that one bad mistake usually leads to another and so on. How is it possible that some mistakes or even people bother us so much that we can’t let them go? We made a mistake or failed and we can’t recover. We don’t or can’t move on. We lose confidence in ourselves and lose trust in others.
The ability to re-focus is difficult. In fact, it’s the second most difficult mental skill, after confidence. Our focus depends on our ability to re-focus, to let go of mistakes, to let go of resentments, self-pity, and the curse of it all, perfection.
Dr. Rob Bell (DRB) is a certified consultant of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology. He has PGA Tour credentials as a Sport Psychology consultant, has coached winners on the PGA Tour and caddied on Tour. He also was the Sport Psychology coach for the 2013 U-18 USTA National Champion. Dr. Rob Bell is the author of the new book, The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness.