Where does self belief come from?
In any situation, the subconscious mind will be scanning it’s huge database of memories to see if that situation is a threat to your physical or mental safety. If you’ve experienced mental pain (failure, disappointment etc.) in that situation in the past, it’s going to try to steer you away from it, via the “stress response” (faster heartbeat, muscle tension and confusion).
If you’d had success in that task before and experienced pleasure, it will give you the green light and drive you towards it. But how do we become successful in a task we haven’t been successful in before?
How to build confidence for golf
Developing skills in the right way will always help your chances of success, but unless you have the self-belief to be able to do it when it matters, you won’t achieve your potential.
One of the little known things about the subconscious mind is that it doesn’t know the difference between a real and an imagined event. Therefore, we can use the power of imagery to increase self-belief! Let’s take a look at an example of a big tournament you might have coming up. No doubt you will be a little nervous about it as you want to do well.
But if your thinking is about “what if I don’t play well and what will that mean”, you’re putting negative images and associations about the upcoming event into your subconscious mind. So when you are there, for real, your subconscious will see it as a situation as a potential threat and try to steer you away from it, via the stress response.
However, if you’ve visualized every shot you’re going to hit in that round (a birdie on every hole) and seeing yourself be successful, then your subconscious will give you a green light when you get there and drive you towards that outcome. Visualization techniques can be used to “reprogram” your subconscious mind, so you build more positive “memories” of certain (past or future) events, than negative ones. This is an essential part of my process to cure the yips.
90% of Olympic athletes use the power of visualization
Coach Bob Bowman says that Michael Phelps would practice a daily visualization routine, creating a vivid vision of what his future success looked like. He would also mentally rehearse each race, seeing each stroke and his winning time.
Olympic gold medal skier Lindsay Vonn said “By the time I get to the start gate, I’ve run that race 100 times already in my head, picturing how I’ll take the turns.”
The world’s best soccer player, Christiano Ronaldo imagines himself scoring before every match and free-kick.
Wayne Gretzky said in his autobiography: “I really believe if you visualize yourself doing something, you can make that image come true”.
How to visualize in 15 mins a day
The best way to visualize is by first, learning how to quieten your mind with meditation. Once you’re in a quiet mind state (I do this for 10 mins per day), you’ll have better access to your subconscious mind and that’s when you’ll want to do your visualization practice. It doesn’t have to take long – I spend about 5 mins per day visualizing my future goals.
I have a whole module on how to build confidence for golf through visualization in my Ultimate Mental Game Training System.
Visualization should definitely be a key part of your pre-round mental warm-up, but try to make it a daily exercise and you’ll soon see your self-belief and effort increase, taking your closer and closer to your long-term goals.