A very wise coach was mentoring a perfectionistic laden young student and was making little headway with the player.
Flummoxed, he went to bed that night and in the morning he awoke early.
Two minutes into his morning shower, a memory from his playing days popped into his mind.
You see, he had had a much wiser coach in 1967. That was the year when he considered quitting golf and taking up fishing. He finished the shower and called the young player.
The coach invited him to play a round together at Indian Hills Country Club in Prairie Village, Kansas. As they were warming up on the range, the older gentleman handed the boy a small bag that the youngster thought contained a few tees. The junior opened the bag and poured the contents into his hand.
Five old pennies.
A quizzical look from the boy and…”is there something I should know about these coins?”
The man with the wrinkled hands and stooped posture said “yes indeed.”
“I want you to put those pennies in your right pocket and here’s the plan…’when you miss that first four foot putt or chili dip that first chip shot, I want to see you immediately reach for the first penny and transfer it calmly into your left pocket. Will you promise to do that for me?
“Yes sir and the point of this is?”
“Today, we are developing your mental muscle so that you can enjoy this terrific game until your hands look like mine. You will prove to yourself, like I did fifty years ago, that you have the capacity to make more mature decisions when the ball does not behave as you’d like.
Will you make a vow to remain cool and unflustered until the five pennies have traveled to your left pocket and then…one by one, back to your right?
“Yes, coach, I will give it a try but it seems a bit silly if you ask me.”
“Son…I’m just encouraging you to consider which is sillier…this mental muscle building or wrapping your nine iron around the tree on number 7 like last Monday.”
The round had its inevitable miscues of questionable tee shots, missed putts, and chances to go into the toilet mentally. The penny to pocket routine short changed the young man’s tendency to go negative and he and the coach had a thoroughly enjoyable day.
The aging coach told the player how proud he was of him and reinforced the value of the process by quoting Viktor Frankl. ‘Between stimulus and response, there is a space and you have a choice in how to respond.’
The youngster tried it two days later and again it worked like a charm.
‘This would work for players in tennis or any sport,’ the boy said to the coach.
‘I’m just delighted it’s working for you, son.’