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A Beautiful (Albeit Yippy) Mind

You remember the flick, right?  The 2001 offering inspired by the Pulitzer-Prize nominated book by Sylvia Nassar, A Beautiful Mind,  starring Russell Crowe as professor and rock-star mathematician John Forbes Nash, Jr. (he himself a Nobel Laureate in Economics).

A human drama - much like the games of golf, and life - when you consider it.  From the heights of notoriety (hitting a brilliant shot, reaping praise for a fantastic round/low score/ a student's performance, getting that new job or pay raise) to the depths of depravity, (making a quad, shooting a million, losing a loved one), Nash Jr. experienced it all.  As we all will on the links; but are you ready, eager and prepared for the adventure?  Click just above for a refresher - if you dare...

A mathematical genius, Nash made an astonishing discovery early in his career and stood on the brink of international acclaim. However, in 1959 he began showing signs of mental illness and spent several years at psychiatric hospitals being treated for paranoid schizophrenia (isn't that similar to what, and how, we can feel over certain shots...?).  He begins - and will throughout his life - to see and 'interact' with people that existed only in his imagination: Parcher, Charles and Marcee, pictured below.  

Uh... so what, you ask - what the devil does this have to do with you, and your golf?  Quite a bit, actually, especially for those of you afflicted with some sort of yip. 

Demons indeed.  We all have them, don't we now?  Some club or shot that scares us.  Some situation - in the golf park or on the daily sidewalk of life, like above - that's troubling.  Some thing you're avoiding.  Oh, go ahead and try and hide them, bury them in that closet of your mind, or bedroom.  Kill 'em.  Ignore them.  Pretend they're not around. 

Or you could 'medicate' to some extent, as Dr. Nash did at one point: insulin shock therapy.  But he doesn't like the side-effects of the anti-psychotic medication that makes him lethargic, and his beautiful mind unresponsive.  So, he stops taking it and the hallucinations return.  Finally, he ACCEPTS that these characters are figments of his mind.  However, he decides (remember, boys & girls, you too have choices), against his doctor's advice, to not restart his medication ('band aids' in the golfer's world) and deal with the symptoms himself. 

Brave.  Courageous.  Risky.  And so must you be - especially the yippers!  And like Nash's wife did with his troubles, you too need support with your 'issues.'  Solutions.  Alternative ways to deal with the little devils dancing in your head...

Oh-so fortunate to have Dr. Debbie Crews with me again last week in Eugene.  Non better on this planet when it comes to yips, and mental performance in general.  To follow, a few more of her findings & offerings; more on Dr. Crews and what paths to follow by clicking above.

- Through multiple studies at the Mayo Clinic and decades of experience treating, we now know that only 7% of yippers are afflicted neurologically - focal dystonia.  The other 93% are psychological

- The principle of 'oneness:'  doing the same thing (consistently consistent!) time and time again and eventually - especially for accomplished golfers - things will break down.  The solution: doing things differently.  That's right, having multiple tools (especially in your set-up, see more below) in your kit to address the jerkiness and accompanying fear, as opposed to stubbornly sticking with the same method or style, the same routine, the same things that are not, nor no longer, are working. 

News to you?  Here some Olds:

“They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.”

-- Confucius

And Buddha taught us long ago that nothing is permanent, and from that, comes much suffering.  Did you not get the memo? Think you were immune?

- Separating the hands on the club is but one possible and effective address position option, as, in the brain this becomes a bi-manual task instead of a uni-manual one (hands 'working together,' as has often been taught.  Oops...).  Very different in the brain - and that's precisely what's needed to run a different program, aka, different motion, stroke or movement - one that is hitch-free.  A trio of alterations/adjustments that will literally get the brain's attention:

- Flaring out your front foot.  Feet and brain linked by an autobahn, BTW.

- Change where the pressure is in each hand, or the orientation of either.

- Turning/opening your body towards the target.  Some.  Or a lot.

And that's what we want, people: to engage the brain - Professor Nash certainly did with his - as opposed to letting it flee the coming scene of the crime (the yip/flinch).  Just as John Nash, Jr. did with the illusionary threesome parading around his life, you must acknowledge the existence (real, or not) of what's troubling you - and have a plan to deal with 'it & them.' 

Some final thoughts on the topic, before you click below and find some top to bottom articles that'll help you feel like a rock-star, when you step into that next shot.  Courtesy of my peeps at Nike Golf.  You see: thought precedes action on the links and in life, and 'who' you are in both is critical.

- Your yips/life demons will never go away.  And that's OK :).  Get to know them, they have something to teach you.  You listening? Sometimes the yip helps you make the putt, did you know?  Your job is to manage the challenge, not eliminate.

- Stay one step ahead of the crowd.  Oh, you know when they are near, don't you now? Just like Dr. Nash knew Parcher, Charles and Marcee were always close.  He choose, however, to put his attention elsewhere.  On what he wanted (like rolling the ball in the hole, chipping the ball into a zone of personal success, or driving the ball in the fairway). 

- Change the sensory input and you'll change the motor (think motion) output. 

Need additional guidance in any, and all, that pertains to your golf?  I'm here for you.  At Eugene Country Club - or a golf park near you.

HEY: Wanna watch the best 55-and-over male amateurs in the world play this week?  C'mon out to ECC for a look...


“The only thing greater than the power of the mind is the courage of the heart”

-- John Forbes Nash, Jr.


          ~ CS ~
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