Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Crush Your A.N.T.'s and Play Your Best Game Ever!

Most of our work to improve at chess involves increasing our knowledge and skill of the game of chess. However, there is another aspect to the game - the game within our minds. Sometimes, our opponent isn't just sitting across the table (or the internet) from us. Sometimes, our toughest opponent is between our own ears!

I had a very insightful and interesting conversation with Greg Liberto - the HEAD Coach. Greg is a professional coach, author, and speaker who primarily helps professional golfers play their best golf ever. He does this by helping them understand and eliminate their Automatic Negative Thoughts (A.N.T.'s). In this interview, we discuss A.N.T.'s and strategies to face and overcome them and use them to our advantage. We discuss the similarities between golf and chess, and Greg coaches me through discovering my A.N.T.'s and developing several strategies to use when I notice them during my games.

Automatic Negative Thoughts

  • A.N.T.'s occur in 90% of our thoughts and are automatic.
  • It is impossible to perform at our best when we have A.N.T.'s.
  • By developing strategies that describe high-level thought processes we can stop A.N.T.'s in their tracks.
  • These strategies - which are simple phrases - can be repeated to yourself when you have A.N.T.'s.

"Hit My Target"


  • A strategy to focus on what matters - what we can control
  • The golfer vs. the sniper - similar goals, but the sniper is totally focused on one goal, while the typical golfer is worried about bad shots he made, responsibilities at home, and other worries that don't matter in the moment.
  • By learning to "Hit My Target" - golfers focus on what they need to do in the present to play their best. Chess players can employ similar strategies to their games - move by move!

Sample Strategies


  • "Play Real Chess" (a concept introduced by chess coach Dan Heisman used here as a reminder to consider your and your opponent's options).
  • "Play Your Game" - Don't worry about what your opponent knows or what surprises he has prepared. Focus on what you know and what you have to do to play your best.
  • "Have Fun"
  • "Relax"

Greg goes into more detail in the video on these concepts and several more. He was very generous with his time and I truly appreciate the perspective he brings to us.

Enjoy the video!

Your Turn

What A.N.T.'s do you suffer from? Share them with us, and then share 3 positives to counteract them. Also, Greg will be following up with us so if you have any questions let us know in the comments. Also, I'll be posting 20 questions that Greg uses with his coaching clients to help them discover strategies they can use to crush their A.N.T.'s - adapted for chess.

If you want to contact Greg, you can e-mail him at Greg(at) (just replace the (at) with a @).


The HEAD Coach ( Greg's site where you can find golf tips and strategies.

18 Holes: How to Stop the A.N.T.s from Stealing Your Game: Greg's book about golf is a quick read and all of his advice can be applied to chess.

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