Hacking… I have heard of computer hacking and cyber hacking, I never imaged that you could hack the mind to do unbelievable extraordinary things. In fact, I have tapped into my brain to elevate performance in the past; not knowing this was possible until I read The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler.
It was an extraordinary day in the spring of 1996, my senior year in high school, when I would achieve something on the soccer field that someone has yet to top at Poway High School. They had a long history of winning year over year and our ‘96 team was probably the worst (yet to be verified) in the history of Poway’s stellar track record in soccer. We fought for every win, albeit not many, but we tried hard with the team that we had. The aforementioned achievement was the day that I would score 5 goals in a single game, breaking the previous record of 4 goals set many years prior, and would take decades to break.
I did not think anything of that day until recently reading The Rise of Superman by Kotler. He writes about action sports athletes finding the state of flow, otherwise called a mind hack. Action sports athletes have been achieving flow for years, only now this altered conscience is being studied and dissected by experts in science and sport.
My proverbial light bulb would shine extremely bright while reading this book. I thought about that day in ’96; I can’t remember every goal but the vivid memory that sticks in my mind was being completely outside myself, almost in another dimension of consciousnesses, for the entire game. The one goal I vividly remember was the final goal when I dribbled past half field and my friend Peter yelled from the sideline, “hit left upper V” (top left goal corner) and sure enough, I dribbled down the entire half field hitting the upper corner almost effortlessly. At one point it seemed like time slowed and I could almost visualize myself dribbling down and scoring before it happened. It felt like it had taken 5 minutes to dribble down while taking my time to hit the shot I wanted, while in reality it only took me about 15-30 seconds to achieve the record breaking goal. I was able to replicate this feeling many more times in my soccer career, and this helped me achieve a high level of success in the game.
Now back to this “quest” business; I have only felt this a handful of times in golf and it’s a blood pounding rush that continues to drive me to play the best rounds of my life. It first happened in golf when I was playing alongside my Dad, 9 holes of pure bliss, feeling like I could hit any shot at anytime. I was able to replicate this feeling recently in a tournament round at Twin Oaks Golf Course even after being +6 after 5 holes with back-to-back 7’s not helping. While playing these two holes, I had internal chatter on whether I should let this effect my entire day or I could rise to the challenge and go after the tournament win. I picked up my mental game finishing +3 for the last thirteen holes, the 3 strokes all narrowly missed the cup, and I was in the perfect state of mental clarity (or flow) for the remainder of the round. In the past I would have just thrown up the white flag and would tell myself I would have no chance at winning the tournament but present day is much different. I have been practicing getting over these mental hurdles and taking one shot, one hole, and one minute at a time on course.
If you continue to struggle with the mental side and looking to get into the flow state I would recommend reading, The Rise of Superman and The Inner Game of Golf by Timothy Gallwey. Both of these books helped me get past the 15 Handicap mark and I continue to revisit both books to refresh the mental side of golf.