We only have 100 per cent to give and that should be enough.

Tiger Woods’ career is at its most serious crossroads. Injury, swing-changes and the emergence of a new generation (who respect but don’t fear him) have coincided with his worst ever slump. I heard Tiger say that he had given 110 per cent and that he could ask no more of himself. Actually, he could ask less.

On sports fields, at work places and in class rooms you often hear the same refrain: you need to give 110 per cent. It is very bad advice. I understand the point — give it your all — but the fact remains that we only have 100 per cent to give and the attempt to give more can actually lead to failure. Sometimes we just try too hard.

By definition, you can only be as good as you can be and most times that’s achieved by performing within yourself and you can’t do that while trying to give 110 per cent. Sportspeople (but I’m sure it applies to most of us) sometimes speak about “being in the zone”. The runner glides seemingly effortlessly over the ground and the swimmer is at one with the water. The batsman sees the ball as if it were bigger and slower. They are actually not giving 100 per cent (let alone 110) at all, but rather are instinctively giving life to all their talent while keeping nerves and extraneous thoughts at bay.

This is not the case with Tiger who, the way he is playing, would be hard-pressed winning the weekly medal at Keperra or Nudgee, let alone threatening in any of the Majors.

Recently I was critical of those who suggested Sam Stosur “chokes” — the implication being that she’s weak under pressure. It’s an ignorant and cruel allegation. Since then, both Martin Kaymer and Charl Schwartzel have given up big leads down the home straight. They were feeling the pressure but weren’t able to process it. Like Sam, they locked up — that which should be instinctive became a process. Instead of just doing it, you start thinking about the doing of it. Big difference.

Woods is one of the most focused and toughest of competitors so his current woes underline the fact that the mind remains largely foreign territory and even the strongest can succumb. He says he’s practising hard and giving 110 per cent. Optimum performance requires the absence of ‘trying hard’. To even think such things makes the doing of it impossible. Indeed at such times there’s not much conscious thought at all —just as the concert pianist doesn’t think of every note or the dancer each step. Instead, it just flows and the results can be as miraculous as they are beautiful.

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