The Psychology Behind Greatness: Tiger Woods Imbalance

Vincent HeckCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2010

KOHLER, WI - AUGUST 15:  Tiger Woods lines up a putt during the final round of the 92nd PGA Championship on the Straits Course at Whistling Straits on August 15, 2010 in Kohler, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Greatness isn't only about skill. Every professional has skill. What makes an athlete great, however, can be a number of things. Usually, the ingredients of greatness include:

1. Skill
2. Statistics
3. Personality
4. Focus

Some players have tremendous skill and build statistics. Others are above average, stand-up guys that stick around the game a bit longer and pile up stats. Some are focused, skilled players. Then there are the invincibles. To name a few: Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Tim Duncan, and Dwayne Wade.

These are the athletes who seemingly have it all. The image, the stats, the championships, the skills, and the focus. A group who, no doubt will one day be in the Hall of Fame. A group that will forever be mentioned and compared against, a group who seemingly cannot be torn down by the media. A group that used to be headed by a man named Tiger Woods. Things for this once highly revered man have taken a dive.

Woods had it all. The clean-cut persona, the Tiger Woods Foundation, the ever-present praise. What we are witnessing, though, is a complete mental disruption in a man who has always found a way to be mentally unshakable.

The Tiger Woods we knew before could do no wrong. Now, to many, he's the immoral, arrogant cheater who can't be trusted.

Wood's recent performance dive is the response to such a dramatic turn in his image. A key ingredient to being Tiger Woodsβ€”greatest of all timeβ€”is invincibility. Perfection is the lesson his father ingrained in him since he was a young child. For these same public eyes that had looked onto him with such awe and admiration to now look at him questioningly flusters the once invincible man.

Professor Robert S. Weinberg, of Miami University of Ohio, states, along with Thomas G. Seabourne, PhD., in The Journal of Sports Psychology, that "learning to cope and deal with counter-productive tendencies that an athlete may experience is important. Their ability to do so will impact on their overall performance and may interfere or facilitate the athlete in striving for an optimal performance."

How can you adjust from receiving nearly no criticism to getting nothing but negative feedback? That's a question Woods, a self-analyzing individual, no doubt, has asked himself. These counter-productive anxieties have certainly plagued a man who has always expected so much out of himself. The questions: Where did I go wrong? What should I have done to prevent this? What can I do better next time? These are surely questions Woods will be pondering at night when he's got nothing but his thoughts to entertain him.

Alas, as we are witnessing, the apparent fact is that you cannot concentrate on life and golf with the same focus. You're either an ultra-focused golfer and reckless life manager, or a focused life manager and a reckless golfer.

There are many who have been considered the greatest of all time who have found themselves in similar situations. There is much pressure on them for being the best that they can be, so they spend extra time living up to their own greatness.

I guess this proves that greatness comes at a price. Quite frankly, something or someone will always pay for a person's imbalance.

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