The tide hasfinally turned for Michelle Wie. The girl with unlimited potential had adisappointing season, and she has suddenly been transformed from wunderkind tounder-achiever. For me, this characterization couldn't be more off base. Intruth, what has happened to Wie is not unique for an elite young athlete. As asports psychologist who has advised thousands of young competitors, many ofthem women, I regard Wie's performance problems as a necessary struggle.Athletes of her caliber often become debilitated by doubt and can loseownership of their own goals. But these are merely consequences of inflatedexpectations and overpraise-not lost skills or lack of will.
By no means isall hope lost, but a few things have to happen first. Wie's critics must backoff, as she will likely struggle more. Her parents should wake up; theirpriority should be guiding their child—not raising a champion. Michelle herselfhas to play the next shot FORWARD.
F Be factual: Atthe Ginn Tribute you were playing poorly, and your slumped body language andsighs indicated feelings of helplessness. Stick to the facts of the game (i.e.,my timing is off) and follow with actions that move your energy outward (i.e.,talk to your caddie) instead of withdrawing inward.
O Get organized:Set your agenda based on what is best for your long-term well-being. Your bodyand mind need time to recover from stress and injury. Be aware of the externalevents occurring in your life, such as the transition to college or parentalconflicts, and their potential influence on performance.
R Respond: Reactto what you have been taught and your instincts for golf rather than the noisethat surrounds your celebrity. At the Hawaii Pearl Open you ignored thecommotion over your 378-yard drive and nailed a perfect nine-iron into thegreen. At age 18 your confidence will increase and decrease quickly, so there'sno need to respond to every thought and feeling.
W Win: You've wonbefore, although maybe not as often as you'd have liked. Put yourself inpositions where victory is a real possibility—even if it means playing at alower level of competition—and focus on re-creating the feelings you've hadduring past victories.
A Acceptmistakes: As Michael Jordan said, "I've failed over and over, and that iswhy I succeed." Keep poor performance in perspective, broaden your goals bysetting a range of performance levels from best to acceptable and take creditfor forward movement.
R Reconnect: Getin touch with the parts of your game that make you feel in control. You'vesaid, "The best part about golf is when you hit the ball long. It feelsreally good." You can have imperfect feelings (i.e., lack of confidence)but still be in control of your game.
D Define successfor yourself: When you said, "I think I can beat Tiger when I'm 20," itreflected a clear vision to challenge yourself. You now know the feeling ofmissed expectations, but don't let that cause you to avoid future challenges.You've also said, "I don't mind when I hit a ball in the woods. I think ofit as an adventure." This perspective frees you to shoot for yourgoals.
Caroline Silby,Ph.D., M.Ed., is the co-author of Games Girls Play: Understanding and GuidingYoung Female Athletes (St. Martin's Press).
by JAMES P.HERRE
The 2008 FedEx Cup playoff schedule will include anoff week.
Angel Cabrera wins a lusterless PGA Grand Slam of Golfin Bermuda
PERENNIAL QUALIFIER - LONG FLIGHT + NEW LOCATION -STAR ATTRACTION - BUZZ = BLANDSLAM
NEW WAVE The author thinks Wie's struggles are a necessary part of an athlete's development
CHRIS CARLSON/AP (TIGER WOODS); KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/AP (HULA DANCER); ROBERT HOLMES/CORBIS (BERMUDA POLICE); LESTER COHEN/WIREIMAGE (JOHN MAYER, TERRI HATCHER, WOODS); ¬© DREAWORKS/EVERTT COLLECTION (BEE); ROB CARR/AP (CABRERA)