My child can't handle losing

If you're serious about golf, learning to lose is part of the process. Losing or playing a poor round is never easy. It is more worrisome if your child isn't disappointed and occasionally upset after a poor round. These are great learning opportunities, and it is important that you and your child learn how to handle it and to take something positive out of it.

Mike Weir was leading the 1999 PGA Championship and was paired with Tiger Woods in the last group on the fourth and final round of play. Mike had never won on the PGA Tour before and here he was, leading a major. He got off to a poor start, never recovered and shot 80 to finish well back of the eventual champion – Tiger Woods. Many Canadians were tremendously disappointed, as Mike certainly was. However, three weeks later, Mike found himself again challenging for his first victory at the Air Canada Championship in Vancouver. On the back nine in the last round he drew on his experiences from the PGA Championship, made some key shots and held on for a thrilling win.

Every athlete has to lose before they win. What is important is to learn from the losses and poor rounds.

These are some of the lessons that Mike learned:

  • Don't pretend it doesn't hurt. It's OK to be disappointed.
  • Take it on the chin and get over it. Move on. It's history.
  • Keep it in perspective.
  • Pay respect to your opponent.
  • Pay respect to yourself, too. It's an achievement just contending in a major championship.
  • Try to learn from it. What might you have done better? What could you have done differently? How might you have prepared better?
  • Make no excuses. Accept that you lost to better players on a particular day.
  • Make sure you enjoy the whole experience, from the pre-round nerves to the post-round interviews.
  • Thank those who have helped you, including your family, friends and fans, and really mean it.
Go beyond the excuses

There is a certain fire in the eyes of a player once he or she stops making excuses and starts taking full responsibility for their destiny. Pro golfers are often told by their coaches not to make excuses -- they are encouraged to go beyond this stage, to pretend there are no excuses at all, even when legitimate excuses might be apparent. This kind of attitude promotes toughening.

We all need to strive for that rare, determined resolve that leaves no room for unnecessary fears, worries or hesitation. Players who take their performances to new dimensions of efficiency and excitement understand that the "excuse" has no place in the heart and mind of the warrior. Rather than unveiling a fancy new strategy, let's just roll up our sleeves and remove the excuses and justifications which might make us feel better in the short term, but offer no hope for long-term growth.

The Blame Game

How often do your opponents leave the course offering multiple explanations for their poor rounds? How does it feel if you just played your best round in months? Maybe you too have a habit of justifying your poor rounds. The all-too-familiar script includes lousy weather, wet grips, injuries, lack of practice, poor fitness, bad bounces, poor greens, or just plain bad luck. Players at all levels in golf engage in this blame game, but true champions reject this option and seek even greater responsibility for their actions and outcomes.

When mentally strong players lose, they accept defeat graciously the way Mike Weir did when Tiger Woods won the 1999 PGA Championships. 


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