My advice to Jordan Spieth: How to bounce back after disaster


This past Sunday was one of the biggest upsets to date in the golf world. It was 22-year-old Jordan Spieth’s Masters to lose. His front nine was perfection. He was cruising toward that green jacket.

He got up to the 12th hole and his mind started to get the best of him. This was the “evil hole.” A voice in his head told him to hit a cut—the same thing that cost him the tournament in 2014.

He choked on the next shot and it was all over. A quadruple bogey on the 12th hole forced him to hand over his championship jacket.



No matter how hard we try, it’s impossible to prevent all bad things from happening. Things go wrong. We make mistakes. Life gets lifey.

Here’s what separates the elite athletes and top performers from the mediocre: the ability to bounce back.

18-time Major Champion Jack Nicklaus said “My heart goes out to him for what happened, but I know that Jordan is a young man who will certainly learn from this experience and there will be some good that comes out of this for him.”

Do setbacks derail you? Most people don’t have systems in place to handle upsets. Time will tell if Nicklaus is right, or if Spieth will go the way of Tiger Woods.  I have some advice for Jordan so he can avoid Tiger’s downward spiral.

First, let’s talk about resilience.



The American Psychological Association defines resilience as, “…the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress – such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. It means ‘bouncing back’ from difficult experiences.”

Michael Jordan is an amazing example:

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

– Michael Jordan



YES!  The military now employs sport psychology experts as “Master Resilience Trainers” because they have seen the value of teaching resilience.

Humans are still on this planet because of our ability to adapt to adversity. It’s amazing what happens when someone taps into their ability to bounce back.   Mistakes become our greatest teachers.


Here’s an example of how I helped a gymnast learn to be resilient:

I worked with a gymnast who was having trouble with a difficult skill on the balance beam. She kept messing up and balking under pressure.

She tried everything to get herself to do the skill. She would punish herself if she didn’t go for it. She had younger gymnasts watch her so she felt more pressure to go for it. She made deals with herself and came up with rewards for going for it.

Nothing worked consistently. The pressure to do the skill and all the overthinking made it worse. Eventually, the skill took up most of her headspace. She couldn’t focus at school. All she could think about was how she kept failing.


We came up with a strategy that worked for her. I’ll tell you about it more later.



If life is already stressful, it becomes harder to bounce back. If you have a support squad you can rely on (coach, teammates, loved ones, guides, mentors), the likelihood of getting derailed is significantly lower.

Surround yourself with resilient people and you will pick up on it. It’s contagious. You are who you associate with. If you hang out with stress cases, you will become one.

Another thing that eats away at resilience is OVERTHINKING. That’s what my gymnast client was doing. She thought about it all day. That one skill was her first thought in the morning. It kept her up at night.

I helped her figure out how to get her thoughts on her side so she could get un-stuck.



All people make mistakes. And all people have the ability to succeed despite life circumstances, errors, and mistakes.

Here’s how my gymnast got back on track:

First, we broke the skill down into little pieces. Instead of sending her in to Nationals with the overwhelming goal of sticking it, we started with small goals in practice to build her confidence back up. This included a routine we came up with called her “bounce-back routine.”

She came up with a series of physical and mental actions she would take immediately after she didn’t go for it. She had a plan. She didn’t have to be afraid of not going for it. If she didn’t go for it, she did her routine, let it go and moved forward. It didn’t take up any more headspace than that.

She applied this for a week, then once the balking wasn’t as big of an issue, we stepped up the goals, adding pressure to match her growing level of confidence.



The key to success with the bounce-back routine is practicing it. Just like her physical training, she had to build up her resilience muscle.  She did it every time the skill acted up. She became confident in her ability to fail, re-set, and move forward. Once failure isn’t scary, you become unstoppable.

We reframed failure as an opportunity to practice and strengthen her bounce-back routine. She made friends with failure, then it stopped happening.



Hey Jordan. Sunday was a bummer.

First, take a look at the precursors to the meltdown:

Overthinking, self-doubt, increased pressure.

Then come up with a bounce-back routine to turn your mistakes into learning moments. Here’s an example:

  • Give yourself 10 steps to be mad.
    • Get furious at that shot. Acknowledge your mistake.  Be sad, be frustrated, be worried. Then after you have taken 10 emotion-filled steps…
  • Place your club in your bag and physically “let it go.”
  • Use a mantra that means something to you that will re-set your mind.
  • Be present and start fresh for the next shot.

Accept mistakes as an opportunity to practice your bounce-back routine. Make friends with failure and enjoy the ride!


How do you deal with failure?  Feel free to share and comment.

All for now!

– Rebecca