As a well-respected golf coach, Hank Haney worked with numerous pro golfers, but when the world's best golfer came calling, Hank knew it was the opportunity of a lifetime. He talks with Dr. Oz about working with Tiger Woods, what to look for in a coach and how to get rid of the yips.
Hank says he didn't make any major adjustments to his coaching style for Tiger. "I always analyze situations and think, ‘What could this person do better?'" he says. "Tiger couldn't care less about how good he is or what he's done. It's real simple with him—'What are we going to do today to be better than yesterday?' It's a great challenge for me as a teacher to try to point him in the right direction."
Personal preference goes a long way in separating a good coach from an ineffective coach, Hank says. "Somebody who's a great coach for one player might not be great for another player," he says. "Does that coach's style work for you; do you like the way they carry themselves, the way they talk? Everybody's a little different."
A top coach will have an incredible eye for the mechanics of the game and the ability to diagnose problems, Hank says. "Once you make the diagnosis of some kind of mechanical problem, you're coaching, cheering on and motivating—teaching how to handle certain issues when they come up. Ninety percent of it ends up being a mental exercise."
One element of the game that Hank believes is not a mental exercise is the phenomenon known as the yips. Technically known as focal dystonia, a yip is a muscular twitch that, in golf, affects the stroke usually right at the moment of impact. While some believe the yips are all in the head, Hank disagrees. "If it's a psychological problem, you'd see that sports psychologists would have some success with it," he says.
Testing has shown that the occurrence of the yips increases under pressure, but positive thinking doesn't seem to solve the problem. "People automatically come to the conclusion that it's pressure or lack of confidence, that you have to believe in yourself," Hank says, "but those thoughts never really get it done."
Published on July 15, 2008