This morning I woke up with a lot of pain in my shoulders. It was raining, and I was supposed to meet with Dr. Dick Coop, sports psychologist extraordinaire, and one of the first sports psychologists in the country. I love him, even though he is a Tar Heel fan. (Go Duke!) I was so focused on my pain, that I didn’t know how in the world I was going to have the stamina to go the equivalent of 14 miles on Thursday, my big day. Since it was raining, I knew we would not be able to hit balls. “Just as well,” I thought. “Since I most likely will withdraw, there’s no sense to getting his help now, although I would like to still visit with him.” I took my trusted dog, Teddy-boy, and headed out in the rain to Old Chatum, a very exclusive club in Chapel Hill where they prefer “not to be known.” It’s a really exclusive club, and a wonderful golf course. You don’t see too many women there, but that’s okay. I’m sure you don’t see too many dogs, either, but I had to take him with me because I was going to be out for the day. It was so great to have my annual mental game training with Dr. Coop, whom I have known since college days. We spoke for an hour about my life, with my tearing up every now and then. In this past season I am emerging out of, my heart has bounced around a lot. We spoke about where I was at now, and what would be a healthy and healing route for me. When we were done, we walked outside to some sun peaking through the clouds. “I have about 30 minutes before I have to leave. Let’s head to the driving range, and get you ready for your U.S. Open Qualifier.” My heart leaped with hope. Dr. Coop immediately started his wizardry on my head and swing:
“Motion creates motion. It’s hard to create motion from a static position, so let’s stop thinking about your swing mechanic you are working on changing. Place the clubhead about a foot ahead of your ball. Start your swing there–so you are starting your backswing from a place of motion. After some swings, he continued, “Now, swing through to your finish and hold the perfect finish for about 5 seconds. This will get you focused on your finish rather than your backswing.” WACK! SWOOSH! SMACK! I started to hit the ball great. “Wow, Dr. Coop, you cleared my head in just a few minutes. It’s so great to move from thinking about creating the perfect swing, to just swinging perfectly! It’s so much more fun to get your head in the game of playing. “Now let’s do this,” he continued speaking as he speared a shaft into the ground about 6 feet in front of me. “Align yourself up to this shaft and hit the ball to the right of the shaft. This will help create the right ball flight.” I listened and then hit. “Great shot, Veronica! That had some really good speed on it.” I got excited. It was so great to just start swinging the club, creating speed and making a solid hit from a cleared mind. I hit ball after ball, and felt great to have my head finally in a position to play. He truly was a master at helping me to switch gears. After about 30 minutes, he needed to go. “Dr. Coop, that was fanstastic. What do I owe you?” “Just eternal gratitude!” I went on. “That was such a great lesson. We worked on swing path and didn’t even talk about it.” He replied, “The best lessons are non-verbal. Athletes learn best by feel. That’s you!” After he left, I hit balls at Old Chatam for a while, with Teddy-boy watching intently in the trees located just before the range. I am sure these “old chatum boys” never had a golf enthusiast dog at their course. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to have him there, but it was just too hot and humid to keep him sequestered in the car. He was a good boy until this big guy walked down to the range to hit some balls, and walked right by him. “Raw-oofff! Ruff!” He just had to go into protect mode. “Shhhh Teddy! We’re at the driving range!” We had just awakened the entire range of Old Chatum golfers, some of whom I’m sure were old stuffy golfers, who were getting ready to play in the First Tee event, to the barking canine at the other end of the range. My practice session was over! We had an awesome time–and in the midst of my wanting to withdraw from the tournament, God sent me Dr. Coop to get my head back in the game. Someone once said that if you don’t direct your mind toward a target, it will naturally gravitate toward the negative. That was my plight the last week, and I am so glad my friend, Dr. Coop came along at the right time, along with my friend, Ova Jean, to bless me with true encouragement. I am realizing that I dont’ have to have it all together in and of myself. When I let go and open up to receive from others, they do appear!