After shooting a 65 in the 2nd round, he’s in 4th position and it looks as if his time away from game to refresh his >mental approach to golf is getting him close to rediscovering the form has made him in the top 10 in the world for most of his career.
The 30 year old has experienced his first slump in form leaving him 68th in the world rankings and hence it was time to take action and work on his mental game. Garcia puts this blip in his career down down to a poor mental game and in seeking to turn it around, he has discovered a new self-help discipline to reduce stress, revitalize his hunger for success and increase his focus on the game. This personal development method is called Sophrology and combines hypnosis, yoga style breathing exercises and Zen meditation. The aim is to get Sergio Garcia’s mental game strong enough to compete in majors.
Coined by Colombian neuro-psychiatrist, Dr. Alfonso Caycedo in the 1960s, the word “Sophrology” comes from a combination of three Greek words: Sos, which means ”serenity” or ”harmony”; phren, which means ”spirit” or ”consciousness”; and logos, for ”science”. Caycedo studied Eastern philosophies including yoga and Buddhism to help his patients increase self esteem and focus through lowering stress and getting emotions under control.
Three fundamental principles are:
- To bring the person into present time, the NOW,
- To reinforce positive action, in order to develop the positive elements of the present, the future and the past rather than focusing on the negative,
- To develop an objective reality, to learn how to see the things more as they are rather than how we think they are.
It requires a lot of practice but the aim is to relax the body and access more of the “in-flow” mind. The means that when you are performing an activity (such as golf), you are fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and success in the process of the activity. In golf, this is being able to focus intensely on the shot at hand and remove all those negative interferences that prevent you from being in the present moment (your score, your swing, your ego, off-course issues etc).
Garcia said of the teaching: “Now I feel full of energy, and actually enjoy practicing. I have set myself new goals and look forward to performing again at the top level. I have been working on my mental approach with a sophrologist to help me put things in the right place. I know more about myself and feel able to answer my own questions.”
Improvements in Sergio Garcia’s mental game will propel him back to the top of world golf and see him win an elusive major. He is now determined to become the No. 1-ranked player, and win that major title that has eluded him for so long. With age on his side and his desire to understand the optimal mental approach to golf, he’s got a very good chance of achieving it.
Photo by Jim Epler