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Mental Rule: Wear the red shirt

by Dr. Gregg Steinberg

"I have always thought that the actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts"
                John Locke

We all have seen Tiger wear his red shirt on Sunday, but why did he adopt that behavior? Is it simply a ritual or does it serve some greater purpose? Actually, it does serve a greater purpose for Tiger's game. Tiger feels more aggressive when he wears his red colored shirt. He knows he must play aggressively on Sunday if he is to go "low" and win. The key question is "How does wearing a red shirt make Tiger feel more aggressive on the golf course?" More importantly, how can Tiger's red shirt help your golf game?

To answer this, we must first examine the color red. Typically, red stands for aggression and assertiveness. As a prototypical example, the matador uses a red cape to make the bull more aggressive and charge at him. Red also stands for fire and when you are fired up you are going to act more assertively. The second reason why wearing a red colored shirt makes Tiger act more aggressive relates to the foundation of self-perception theory.

Put simply, this theory states that we infer our emotions from our actions. Our brain gets the message from our body how to feel. Take smiling as an example. When we smile, we just feel happier. Even faking a smile will make you feel happier. We infer that we are happy because we our smiling. In the case of Tiger Woods, the action of putting on a red shirt on Sunday makes him feel more aggressive and fired up to go low on Sunday.

The principle of Tiger's red shirt can have a huge impact on your golf game and golf attitude. Let's apply this principle to building confidence about your golf game. There are many ways to become more confident, but one main one is by simply acting confident. How we act on the golf course after a missed shot or putt can greatly impact how confident we may feel for the next couple of holes. For instance, walking off the green with the shoulders slumped and the head down after missing an easy putt will make the golfer feel less confident in subsequent holes. This golfer infers from his body language (slumping shoulders) that there must be something wrong.

On the other hand, if a golfer just had a disastrous hole, yet can still hold the head and shoulders high, a loss of confidence is less likely to occur. If you want to feel more aggressive on the golf course, wear a red shirt like Tiger. If you want to feel more confident, you must strut your stuff no matter what happens on the hole. If you want to have more fun, just keep smiling.

This is excerpted from MentalRules for Golf by Dr. Gregg Steinberg. Dr. Steinberg has consulted with PGA tour players as well as elite college golfers and juniors. If you have any questions or would like to set up a mental training program contact Dr. Steinberg, please e-mail steinbergg@apsu.edu or call 931-206-1328. To order this book go to amazon.com or go to mentalrules.com.

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