Episode 010 | Discussing The Mind Game With Coach Mark Cheney

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The Mind Game With Coach Mark Cheney

The gentleman we have on the show today has helped thousands of students and athletes achieve peak performance.  As an educator and coach, he brings a unique and personalized approach to each performer he works with.  He helps each performer find their key to unlocking personal excellence.

With diverse experiences including golf, basketball, softball, volleyball, soccer, baseball, tennis, lacrosse, track, football, Mock Trial, and AP classes, he understands how to work with performers in a variety of settings.  Prior to starting a high school mental conditioning program in his hometown of Las Vegas, he worked as a mental conditioning coach at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. He is a certified GolfPsych instructor and a member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) and the National Federation of HS Coaches (NFHS).

On the performance side, he played basketball and golf at Rhodes College while earning a degree in biochemistry.  He has since coached 11 state championship teams, completed Masters degrees in educational leadership and performance psychology, and been published in multiple magazines.

I’d like to give a red hot GolferOnFire welcome to Coach Mark Cheney.


Getting To Know Coach Mark

How and when did you first get introduced to golf?

I whacked around a plastic golf ball around the yard when I was about 3 or 4. I played both basketball and golf growing up.

What do you think is the biggest misconception of the game by non-golfers?

That it’s boring. I even hear it from my daughters. When you get into it and the mental challenge that changes. The constant challenge has always intrigued me. Once you hit some good shots that sense goes away.

What is your least favorite rule or part of golf?

The stroke and distance for an out of bounds is probably my least favorite. It’s a little more penal than hitting it into a pond and it’s the same misjudgment.

How often do you play these days or does coaching take up all your time?

I’ll play with the kids during practice sessions on the golf course.

Do you have a favorite golf club that you always seem to hit well, even when your mental game has gone away?

I like coming back to the short game and hitting little wedges around the green. I’m thinking about chipping it in.

What is your favorite place that you’ve played golf?

I’ve played a little all over. Aside from the humidity, Hilton Head is a great place to play golf. And of course, Las Vegas.

If you could pick 3 people to be in your “Ultimate 4-Some”, who would they be?

David Feherty, John Wooden and my Grandfather.

Quick Fire Round

What is your current handicap if you had one?


What is the worst round of golf that you can remember and will admit to?

I was a senior in college. I had no idea what I was doing. I made egregious violations of the rules and probably shot a million.

What is your favorite golf course?

TPC Southwind in Memphis

What is your favorite golf movie?

I think everybody likes “Caddyshack.” I also enjoyed “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”

Who is your all-time favorite golf professional, alive or dead?

Even though he’s not a “professional”, I’ve got to go with Bobby Jones.

Coach Mark Shares His Passion For The Mental Game

Let talk about the mental side of the game.

How important is the mental side of the game of golf, or any sport for that matter.

What percentage of golf is mental?

80/20 for the most part and yet NO ONE works on it. Something seems wrong here. For a long time there has been a stigma about psychology and I think people have a misconception. It’s becoming more accepted.

It’s like strength training. Overtime people have learned that it is important. The same thing is happening with the mental side.

The US Olympic team didn’t use mental training until 1994.

Why do you think more coaches don’t talk about the mental aspect of sports or is it becoming more prevalent?

Some coaches are still a little afraid of the area. There needs to be a culture change. People are fascinated by it and they are becoming more willing to learn.

What is the difference between a sport psychologist and a mental conditioning coach?

It’s a legal aspect. In the US to call yourself a psychologist you need to be licensed. They treat disorders. They do important work.

My emphasis is on mental conditioning, it takes time and work. With the investment in time it will result in better performance.

What can the average player do to get better at the mental side of the game?

Focus on deciding what shot you are going to make and once the decision is made…go with it.

Final Questions

What has been the best piece of advice you’ve ever received that has helped you play better golf?

Have an understanding of the connection between mind, body and your golf swing.

What has been the best piece of advice you’ve ever received that has helped you do better in business or life?

The president of my alma mater liked to tell people that “to recognize the good is ever the enemy of the best…so seek the best.”

Good enough, isn’t.

We look forward to having Coach Mark on future shows where we can get a little deeper into the mental aspects of the game of golf.

Contacting Coach Mark Cheney

Coach Mark works with individuals as well as teams so feel free to reach out to him. If you are looking to improve the performance for either yourself, or a team, you owe it to yourself to touch base with Coach Mark.

He can be reached on his website: www.coachmarkcheney.com.

On Twitter: @coachmarkcheney

By email: mark@coachmarkcheney.com

By phone: 702.612.6724

If you can’t reach Coach Mark at one of those places, you aren’t trying!


As always my friends…Long and straight!


Paul “The Golf Guy” Charron

About The Author

Paul "The Golf Guy"

Golf blogger, Chaser of the Little White Ball

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