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Jordan Speith and the Myth of Momentum

Sam Jarman - Tuesday, July 25, 2017


So many times we hear that ‘momentum’ in sports is a crucial factor.

The team or player who are in the ascendancy often appear to have a significant advantage.
So what are we to make of the situation in the final round of the Open Championship this Sunday?
Jordan Speith was struggling with his nerves and his game for most of his round, culminating in the debacle in the sand dunes on the edge of the practice ground on the 13th hole.
His main opponent Matt Kuchar, was playing steadily and seemingly moving towards his first major as Speith appeared to be self destructing.
Momentum is often talked about as if it is a physical thing, something tangible, something real.
But the truth is different.
Momentum only exists in the mind of the player or players.
It's just part of the story they are telling themselves about what is happening.
And as we know. Our perception of reality is just that. A perception.
Momentum in sports is a made up entity. A description often used by commentators and athletes to describe what they feel is happening.
The only way it has the power to affect the outcome is the extent to which the players believe in it.
To anyone watching Jordan Speith on Sunday afternoon it must have looked like everything was going against him.
For him to turn it around in the way he did showed uncommon resilience.
Remember this is the golfer who 18 months ago let a 5 shot lead slip in the final round of the Masters.
The past has no power to affect our performance in the present. There is no such thing as ‘mental scar tissue’, just as there is no such thing as ‘Momentum’ when it comes to sports.
A golfer’s state of mind is constantly in flux. We can feel confident one minute and a bag of nerves the next.
The more we understand that this is normal and in no way a problem, the less likely we are to allow our state of mind to get in the way of our performance.
If you'd like to understand more about the way your psychology might be affecting the way you play, you might enjoy taking this short quiz.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, or if you would like to talk about your golf, please get in touch.



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