ADHD Play Acting: 2010 Whistling Straits

The following is a theory on how a future ADHD Bubba like golfer, might prepare to make the safe shot rewarding in a clutch moment with a major on the line.

We all playacted as kids. We played the hero hitting the walk off slam or pretended with a whiffle ball in hand that we closed the 9th to win the World Series. We’ve scored the winning goal in the World Cup Final and made a game saving glove save in a Stanley Cup game 7.

Bob Rotella is a strong advocate for using the tool of visualization to train your brain that you have been there before. You could visualize that you are in a pressure situation and remained calm or you made the final drive on the 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass right down the middle of the fairway to safe long iron distance with a 2 stroke lead. In his book Your 15th Club, he has a section dedicated to the regiment of visualization. It is a very useful tool.

Playacting can be visualization with sound and motion added.

The problem with playacting in golf you have to positively execute for the playacting to have proper impact.

So here is Bubba’s scenario at Whistling Straits. Martin Kaymer is in the rough off the tee at 18. Bubba is also in the rough 200+ yards.

Being ADHD, with the bright shiny object, the Wanamaker trophy, "sitting on the green" Bubba goes for the home run and dunks it into the hazard. There was no way for his caddy to persuade Bubba to do otherwise. The reward of his first major was to overwhelming for his ADHD braking system to slow him down.

What I mean by Bubba’s ADHD braking system, imagine the General Lee with moped sized break pads. The ADHD breaking system is simply under powered to properly dampen things like impulsivity, emotional control and/or temper.

However if Bubba engaged in proper playacting , his caddy Ted Scott may have been able to persuade Bubba to go for the safe shot. It about adding the safe shot to your reward system.

Here is what we suggest an amateur ADHD golfer might try to prepare for similar situations:

  • Play the punch shot as you would in the round. Out loud, in a positive manner acknowledge your competence. " Yes, thats perfect!!"
  • Go into your routine and address the ball like you normally would but this time swing over or beside the ball with no contact and pretend the ball landed 8 feet from the hole. Verbally celebrate the competence of your faux shot as if it were real. "Yes!" (It helps if the ball is already there so you can "see the result")
  • Go into your routine and hit the 8 foot putt. If you make it, celebrate like you did as a kid. If you miss the putt and make the second putt, in a positive manner out loud, acknowledge your competence and "go on to the next hole" as the playoff continues.

Note: A more advance golfer can hit the ball on step 2

An important key is to say your self praise aloud. This increases the number of sensory streams this faux moment is generating in your neocortex. Thus this faux moment is a more prominent memory than merely visualizing with your eyes closed.

With this more visceral type of visualization, a future Ted Scott-like caddy might have a better chance to persuade a Bubba-like ADHD golfer to win with through a lay up.

The other option is to simply have a competition between two balls best of 7. One aims for the home run and the other the layup and see who wins/loses the Wanamaker trophy more. For the ADHD golfer, add variety with different shot locations for each set. With that data in the ADHD golfer brain, he is more likely to be persuaded off a high risk shot like the one Bubba went for it all at Whistling straits.