Poker face – The Portugal News

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By Neil Connolly,
in Sport ·
29-05-2020 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Before I start a lesson with a new client, I always ask them what they’ve done in the past that they feel that they are very good at, in order to get an idea of how good their processes are in other areas of their lives.

Because once I find out where some of the talents actually lie, I can relate what they’ve done in the past to similarities in golf. For example, if somebody has a history of success in tennis, they clearly have good hand eye coordination. If somebody is a talented surfer, they have great balance and normally great core strength. Or, if the player has had success in business they understand that nothing happens immediately and their success is directly related to the amount of hard work they’ve put in over the years.
Last week, to give you an idea of the varied work histories my players walk into the studio with, I asked the normal question, “so is there anything that you’ve done in your past or are doing currently which you are good at?” And received the answer: “I’m a professional poker player.”
Due to the face mask I was wearing he probably missed the smile behind it. He then admitted that a poker game will generally last for about 12 hours. During those 12 hours he has to; analyse everything that’s going on around him, assess the risk and reward of playing a certain hand, show absolutely no emotion, and keep his energy levels and concentration at a very high level for these 12 hours. I immediately knew this beginner golfer had a lot of the mental attributes to be successful at golf.
We just have to get him swinging the golf club in a way in which he can control the ball. Now I know that that last sentence sounds like exactly what every other golfer needs to be able to do, but bear in mind my professional poker player understands how to play the “long game”, not how to move the ball a long way but how to, over a long period of time, be successful through strategic behaviour.

In addition to the above tradecraft similarities between golf and poker, he also understands how to commit to a hand, he knows when to go ‘all in’ and more importantly when not to. So, if I can coach him how to assess risk, take on only shots with which he has a 50 percent chance of success then he will have a very strong mental game to use whilst on the golf course.
Which is really fascinating when you consider that both elements of the game, technical and tactical, are completely different skill sets yet one needs the other or, to take it further, is totally dependent on the other. You never see a great technique and a poor mental game succeed and you also never see a poor technique and great mental game succeed. They’re totally linked whilst being independent of each other.
The amount of times I see a good golfer lose their temper on the golf course and then bogey the hole when they could have quite easily made par, and then compound that error furthermore by trying harder or pressing too hard or pressing too much on the next hole to make up for their mistake, which normally ends badly.
Clearly if you’re going to be a good poker player you have to be able to control your emotions, be they either excitement or disappointment, so that nobody at the table can read the cards you have in front of you. Some people will be better at it because of the personalities they were born with, but a lot of this skill to control your emotions comes from training. And that training is easy to deliver these days, if you have been trained to coach in this area.
If you feel this is an area you require some attention in, that you find it difficult to maintain an optimum performance state, then have a think.
If you feel I’m talking to you directly then give us a call at Golf Integrated Academy on 912 263 555.


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