Sport psychologist caddying on PGA Tour

caddying PGA Tour

I’ve been in the applied field of Sport Psychology for 10 years, 3+ years entirely as a full-time professional, leaving academia to pursue my passion and start my own business.

My major types of clients are professional golfers, and I have caddied on tour since 2006. Caddying was a natural fit because it was a way to morph into an “on the field” coach during actual competition; no better feeling in my opinion.

In 2012, I am caddying for my client during the last PGA Tour event of the year. He is playing well, 1st place after the first round, and although he moved back a bit during the other rounds, he still had a chance to post a top-10 finish.

Fifteen minutes before each round, we always had a coach-up session, where we devised our mental and course game plan. Every day we had the same simple mental game plan because simple is powerful and simple works. Thus, before the last round, he approached me and I laid it out for him (hence the big mistake).

In the past I have used the following game plan and mentality, and it has been successful, so I wasn’t freewheeling at all. However, there is a lot of intuition with coaching and sometimes coaxing. So, when he asked, “what’s our game plan,” I replied with, “It’s your day.”

He walked away immediately shaking his head in disapproval and mentioned how he didn’t really like it and asked if I had anything else? So, ten minutes before tee-time, I tried to justify, defend, and explain my mantra…. What else am I going to say at that point, “It’s NOT your day?” I said it, believing that good things were going to happen and staying with our process that had worked.

He teed off and proceeded to hit the ball in a hazard, took a drop, hit it in the middle of the green, and 3-putted for a double bogey. Walking on to the 2nd tee, he mentioned to me “yep, it’s my day all right.”

Only after a delay in the middle of the fourth fairway, did we have a chance to backtrack and re-focus. He played solid the rest of the day, but in a sport with large purses and where every shot counts, the damage had been done.

It’s Your Day!

The mistake was that I “got in the way” of my athlete. Perhaps, I inadvertently put the focus on factors outside of his control, believing that it was going to be a good day and that good things were going to happen. I also couldn’t account for the fact that he had heard this phrase a long time ago and played horribly.

Nonetheless, I made a mistake. Less is (almost) always more and I broke it. I tried to get creative and go off menu with my coaching style at the moment. It’s still a fault of mine; there are many tools in the shed and I want to use them all, when just one would do. It takes a genius to keep it simple.

Lastly, it was a costly mistake and if we are in a field of coaching and helping people, we are going to make mistakes. It is one true system of really discovering what methods work and what doesn’t in applied settings.

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   

 

Confident people can do this

Confident people can do this skill…


A boat is off-course 99% of the time. A sailboat finds its destination is by tacking. Confident people can do this skill as well.  A series of zigzagging maneuvers, adjusting the sail back and forth and using the wind. Adjusting is how sailboats reach their final destination.

 The best view tacking as the way to sail, while the stubborn view tacking as stressful.

Last year during a tournament round of golf, I actually 3-putted three times….Yeah, brutal. Only after doing an autopsy, I realized something. I lost confidence because I lacked this skill. I never made an adjustment coming down the stretch. Confident people can do this skill!

Confident people can make adjustments!

In the classroom, boardroom, or field of play. Those that can make adjustments will be successful. Stubborn people on the other hand make no adjustments (insert definition of insanity here) and sometimes refuse to make adjustments.

Adjustments can be physical or mental.

It may be a change in attitude or to our routine. Most importantly, however, these adjustments are usually small. The reason why adjustments are small is because

Fundamentals Never Change!

If our foundation and process is solid, then all we need to do is make small adjustments. It may require asking outside people for their help, but the adjustment is usually small.

Confident people can do this skill and make these adjustments because they believe an alteration will make them successful. On the other hand, those that struggle are firmly planted in the belief that a change won’t work. They believe they are only one mistake away from failure. (um, see my putting example from above). 

Mental Toughness is being able to deal with the struggle, setbacks, and adversity. How we make adjustments will determine our success.


Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness- 

one way to be confident

One Way to Be Confident


Let’s face it, Everyone faces adversity, encounters struggle, and goes through dry spells.

Mental toughness is how we handle, deal, and cope with these setbacks. and adversity. It’s simple, but it’s just not easy.

Confidence is the most important part of mental toughness and a true indicator of how we handle the struggle… So, here is one way to be confident.

Nothing Bothers You!

Confidence is simply the belief that it will all work out.

Trust in our own team also means we believe that they will get the job done as well. A result of confidence is that the best remain relaxed and don’t freak out when the outcome is not going their way. The one way to be confident is to not let anything bother you! 

The best simply let nothing bother them. They believe in their process so much, that they refuse to let setbacks affect their mindset or their team.

It’s amazing to see, but the best manage to keep their poise and focus. Nothing bothers them! They keep their head when others are losing theirs. It is the major impact of trust and the true test of one’s level of belief and mental toughness.

Now, we all get stressed, but what is our level of confidence during these times?

The Little Things

It is common for the major changes or setbacks to bother us… However, ever notice when we get stressed that everything seems to bother us, like the person next to us in traffic or our family? When we our confident, these things don’t bother us at all, however they become the first thing to annoy us when we lose our belief that things will work out.

“Nothing Bothers You” is one way to be confident!

We can actually make this mantra a goal to be achieved rather than just an outcome of confidence. The only way we can achieve our goal of “nothing bothers me”, is if we are confident! What we are really agreeing to is the belief that “I don’t need everything to go my way in order to be successful. I believe it will work out and I am going to act as if.”

Check out this Golf Channel clip from PGA Tour player Ryan Blaum on his mantra of “nothing bothers him.”


Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness-