Have you ever felt in control or in the zone? In sports, music, work, or school we all experience a time where our mind and muscles are in sync. Many athletes tell stories of when they felt in complete control and performing becomes effortless. The stories include feeling a mixture of calmness, positivity, and confidence. The question is, do we get calmer and more confident when we perform well, or do we perform well because we have confidence? This varies for everyone, but the great athletes are able to manufacture confidence. The late Kobe Bryant (professional basketball player) used to say, “If I missed 13 in a row, then there is no way I was going to miss 14. I am due.” When he was performing well would say, “If I made 10 in a row then I was for sure going to make the 11th.” Either way, his confidence remained constant as that gave his muscles the best chance to succeed. In golf, manufacturing confidence and peace of mind is tricky because we have so much time to think between shots. Golf is a demanding sport that requires precision and, as Dr. Bob Rotella puts it, the ability to “get out of your own way.” He believes we all have the ability to be good putters, but we get in our own way through negative thoughts, or by overthinking. He says, “If we can toss a tennis ball to someone, then we can be a good putter.” We just need to trust ourselves and have confidence in our process. Afterall, one of his books is titled “Golf is a Game of Confidence.” The obvious step towards developing confidence is to practice, to build muscle memory that can be relied upon when it matters most and when our brain interprets pressure and feelings and our thoughts become more active. When one performs an action the proprioceptors in your muscles and tendons send information to your brain. The brain uses this information to send input back to your muscles. This process repeats establishing muscle memory and adapting to the challenge at hand. Our brain is our greatest strength, but it can also be our weakness. If our brain is not in the right frame of mind – calm, confident, and quiet – then the signals between mind and muscle get interrupted. Emotional wellness is every bit as important to a golfer as a practice swing and it requires practice just like our swing. At FTSV, we practice emotional wellness techniques in our first level (PLAYer) when we introduce the core values Perseverance and Confidence, then in our second level we build on mental exercises with our 3 Tips for Having Fun (Patience, Positive, Ask for Help) and the 4 R’s (Replay, Relax, Ready, Redo). Lastly, our Eagle players (4th level) explore the connection between mind, emotional state, and body through the lesson, Healthy Body, Mind, and Heart. Our participants are learning that they might not be able to have complete control where their golf ball goes, but they can work to manage their mind and emotions. In the big picture of life, that is winning. To join our program and learn emotional wellness techniques please visit our Youth Classes page. Registration for Summer opened Wednesday, May 12th, and registration for the Fall opens Wednesday, August 11th at 10am.