Training someone with an exercise history like Tiger’s is always interesting. Usually, they have been well trained and lift with acceptable form and technique within what I call the traditional athletic model, which is with too much weight and intensity. When an athlete lifts in this manner quite often his mental and emotional strength gets tied to his physical strength.
If you go back to 1994 when Tiger was a student at Stanford, his pictures show a fit young man, but not the physical specimen that he became on the pro tour. In fact, when he entered the pro tour, the benefits of weight lifting and physical fitness weren't widely acknowledged. When Tiger was a student at Stanford he only weighed 158 pounds and stood 6’2”. In his glory days on the PGA Tour, Tiger weighed in at just under 190 pounds. With the added strength and confidence that his exercise regime generated, it wasn’t long before Tiger began dominating the tour. As his competitors began taking notice of his physical change, the fitness craze that has captured golf was born.
From the way in which he carried himself on the course, I would say that Tiger took at a lot of his mental toughness from the strength that radiated from his body. Unfortunately, when his body began breaking down, which was almost destined from the way in which he trained, his mental strength also began breaking down.
You see, when athletes' bodies begin breaking down, that breakdown cannot help but to affect them mentally and emotionally. Often, athletes' bodies are the mechanisms that have propelled them to the heights of success that they have enjoyed. As age or injury diminishes their abilities, it can be as if the body has betrayed them.
This is the “in” I was talking about last week. After all his injuries and subsequent rehabs, the physical strength has returned to Tiger’s body, but the mental toughness and the union between mind and body hasn’t. That’s the contradiction I see between the confident man that stands in front of the camera giving an interview and the diminished athlete I see on the golf course.
What we must do is repair the relationship between the athlete and his body. And that starts at the beginning, in the gym, changing his relationship to lifting weights and working out.