Dr. Glen Albaugh: Why we love closers
26 Mar 2014
by Dr. Glen Albaugh

Heroes are the ones who win the day, and everybody loves a hero. But there's a special breed of hero we admire the most: the Closer.

Closers are the athletes who love the action when everything is on the line - when winning and losing hang in the balance. They are the guys (and gals) we trust to get the job done when it's most challenging, because even if they don't win, the one thing we can count on is that we know they will give it everything they've got.

And even though we tend to think of closers as the best athletes, that's not always the case. One thing I've learned after working with athletes of all abilities for more than 25 years is that there's a closer inside all of us. Every athlete I've ever known is capable of being that special breed of hero: the closer. That's because being a closer is more about mindset than it is about physical gifts.

Let me explain why, and give you a few ideas how you can tap in to the closer inside you the next time you face a clutch-situation.

Lee Jenkins wrote a fascinating piece on closers (Sports Illustrated, July 25, 2012) and their mindset, and his interviews with top athletes match my experience. The closers are athletes who look forward to the chance to take the last shot, the last putt, or the last pitch. It's not about the winning, they said. It's about loving the moment. About being there. About embracing the challenge. Fear of failure wasn't part of the equation. That moment - the one we think of as crunch-time - was an opportunity to play their games on the biggest stage, to enjoy every single minute of the experience.

Sure, we all want to win, and it's great fun when we do. But it is not at the heart of the closer's thinking. What's at their heart is grabbing hold of that moment.

To examine Jenkins' closer principle further, and learn how it can apply to your game, let's take an up-close look at the pressure- cooker laboratory at the 2012 Ryder Cup matches.

Seizing the Moment - How To Become A Closer

The next time you play, there will come a moment when you've got something on the line, like Ryder Cup players do. You'll feel the pressure closing in. You'll feel the butterflies in your stomach and your heart in your throat. Will you make the shot? Can you pull it off?

The key lesson I'd like you to take away is that what you say to yourself in that moment can make all the difference.

If you imagine failure, you'll make that pressure real, and you'll have no chance.

Here's what I want you to do, instead: Embrace the moment.

Yes, you're hands may sweat and you may feel butterflies doing a triple-step. But recognize that in that moment, with all your senses heightened, you are alive in a way you can be in no other situation.

Seize that moment, and say to yourself:

"Wow! Here I am again right in the thick of things with a chance to win the day. I'm not sure if I'll win or not, but this is why I'm here. For this moment. For this chance. I love this feeling."

THAT is how you'll allow the closer within you to emerge.

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