Take Instruction Only as Directed

The late renowned golf coach Harvey Penick was known for likening instruction to medicine.  He would caution his students that when he gave them instruction to “not take the whole bottle.”  He also warned against taking medication that was prescribed to another student.  To avoid this, he never let a student observe another student’s lesson.

Read the Label

When referring to actual medication this advice seems so obvious as to not warrant mentioning.  But in the realm of sport instruction, including mental instruction, this is a trap that we often fall into.  Reading many instructional books and magazine articles is akin to walking into a pharmacy.  In most cases the instructions are sound and work very well for a specific performance issue.  However, blindly following that instruction is like taking a bottle off the pharmacy shelf and downing a few of the pills without a doctor’s order and without having any idea what illness the medication treats.  The result can be catastrophic to your game.

Consult a Mental Coach

This advice extends to the mental game as well.  There are numerous books, CD’s and other materials with mental game tips and instruction.  While these materials have their purpose, nothing can replace individualized mental game coaching.  Just as you would seek treatment from a doctor for an illness or injury, consult a mental coach to maximize performance in your particular sport.  You will surely improve much faster than trying to figure it out yourself, and you will also avoid the “side effects” of taking “medicine” for problems you don’t have!