Renowned sports psychologist, author and golfing guru Dr. Bob Rotella spent Monday in Watertown, and it wasn’t to play a round of golf. Rotella spent the day at Taft, dining with the golf team, inspiring students and coaches and even sharing tips and insights on the links at the Watertown Golf Club.
“I loved walking down the fairway at Watertown Golf club with him engaged in conversation,” said assistant director of athletics and girls’ golf team coach Ginger O’Shea. “Most people who saw us may have thought we were talking about approach shots to the green, but we talked about life. Bob's message to "be your own best cheerleader," and "be your own best friend" not only applies when you are out on the golf course, but it applies to your everyday attitude about life.”
Widely recognized as one of the world’s top sports psychologists, Rotella has worked as a personnel consultant for the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Senior Tour, U.S. Olympic Ski Team and the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team, as well as the New York Yankees, San Francisco 49ers, New Jersey Nets, and Texas Rangers. And now—thanks to Kristine and Tom Gordon, parents of Heather Gordon ’14—Taft School.
During a presentation Monday night in the Black Box theater, Rotella spoke of visualization, self-confidence and the power of mental preparation. And a part of that preparation, Rotella says, is developing a meaningful routine.
“I was never a player that was big on routine, and I never thought that it could be such an important part of the game,” explained boys' golf team co-captain Brandon Sousa ’12. “But Dr. Rotella has such knowledge and constantly placed emphasis on the importance of a meaningful and consistent routine. I will definitely implement that as part of my game strategy from now on.”
Boys' co-captain Henry Wesson ’13 agrees:
“The day with Dr. Bob Rotella was eye-opening and definitely changed my mental approach to golf. After listening to him talk on the putting green I was able to go out on the course and try the things he talked about, which helped a lot. He also talked about things we need to do off the course to give ourselves the best chance to be successful golfers. He talked about many of the sacrifices that are necessary to be successful, and entertained us with stories from his own life and things he has learned.”
In the end, however, the most powerful message was not about stroke mechanics, chip shots, or where the ball lies, but about what lies within.
“The idea that resonated most with me was about not being fearful and having confidence,” said girls' golf team co-captain Ali Eleey ’12. “From now when I’m on the course I am going to trust myself and know that I have worked hard and practiced my game a lot, so there is no reason to be scared. Another idea that stuck with me was the importance of being resilient after tough days on the course. That is much more difficult than simply feeling bad and making excuses for yourself. I learned a lot from what Mr. Rotella said and it motivated me to continue working on my game.”
“It was a very memorable day,” concludes O’Shea. “We were very lucky to have had this opportunity; it was a really big day for anyone who loves sports and an especially big day for anyone who is interested in the mental aspect of sports.”