How one LPGA pro uses her workouts to improve her mental strength on the course
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Succeeding in golf is as much about mental fortitude as it is about innate ability and execution. How you react when things start to go awry on the course is the difference between great golfers and hopeless hackers. The latter group might unravel after an ugly hole or bad break, while the former group overcomes the struggles and finds a way to score.
Practicing how to hit long, straight drives is pretty straightforward. But how do you improve your mental strength to power through those bad moments? For LPGA Tour star Gaby Lopez, it all starts in the gym.
Last month the LPGA debuted it’s behind-the-scenes “LPGA All-Access” documentary, which follows several LPGA pros on and off the course as they compete at the 2021 CME Group Tour Championship. Lopez is one of the stars, along with Amy Olson and many more, and while the entire three-part series is well worth a watch, it’s Lopez’s appearance in episode 2 that we’re concerned with here.
The episode finds Lopez mid-workout with her trainer. And while she sweats through a few intense exercises punishing her body on camera, Lopez’s comments aren’t focused on her muscles. Her primary focus is her mind.
It turns out that Lopez gets as many mental gains as physical gains from her regular workouts. And it all has to do with training her mind like a muscle.
Lopez uses plank drills as an example. As she explains, her trainer will ask her to do a 1:30-minute plank, and she’ll keep time with the stopwatch on her phone in front of her. But when it reaches the 1:20 mark, her trainer will flip the phone over so she can’t see how much time remains. By doing so, they’re able to trick her mind into pushing beyond what she thinks she’s capable of.
“You find the strength somewhere out of the blue to keep going,” Lopez explains in the documentary. “That’s the key you know sometimes when you believe you can’t keep going and your mind kind of gives you that extra push, but your body says stop, but then your mind is like ‘one more’ and you do it, then you prove to yourself that your stronger than you think.”
In Lopez’s opinion, that mentality translates directly to the golf course. It’s easy for any pro to stay positive when, as she says, “you’re shooting 63 and making a lot of birdies,” but it requires real mental strength, the kind she trains in her workouts, to survive when things go wrong on the course.
“It’s how you manage to shoot 68 or 69 when you’re hitting it bad. I’ve struggled with that for a long time,” Lopez says. “It’s not easy to get over a 5-footer to win a golf tournament and be comfortable. But only through experience, only through moments of stress and mental doubt, and you go through it and you overcome it, I think that’s when the true mental power comes into play.”
The way Lopez sees it, pushing your limits is ultimately the key to succeed in anything, whether it’s in the gym, on the course and or anywhere else.
“Sometimes you put so many limits on yourself, and when you just let your mind free and your body free, just do your best, whatever it is is good,” Lopez explains. “And I feel like if you focus on that, the better version of yourself comes out.”
You can watch the entire second episode of LPGA All-Access below and check out the entire series on Youtube here.