Self Doubt In Golf

Effects of Self-doubt on Performance

How would you like to get to the first tee knowing you’re going to play well that day, every time you step on to the course? Of course we all would. Unfortunately that’s not what most of us experience. Even if we arrive at the course full of confidence a single poor shot or missed putt sends our minds and games reeling.

What did we do wrong? How can I fix my swing?

Here we go again! Panic sets in.

The reason we don’t play as well as we like, or as consistently as we like we don’t address the source of our problems – self doubt in golf. Self doubt can be part of our permanent make-up or strike in the blink of an eye right in the middle of a swing. Self doubt leads to stress and anxiety which triggers our fight-or-flight reflex. While this reflex helped our earliest human ancestors survive their hostile environment it interferes with performance of fine-motor skills, like golf that also require a singular visual and mental focus.

Because the fight-or-flight reflex has not evolved since the time of cave men and women our nervous system responds to modern day stresses as if our lives were being threatened. As such, it releases powerful chemicals that dilate our pupils to increase our peripheral vision so we detect danger quickly, keeping your eyes in constant motion. That makes it nearly impossible to keep your eyes still. You may not even be aware that your eyes are moving because you’re trying to figure out what you did wrong or what you’re supposed to be doing.

Our ancestors had to respond to danger swiftly, powerfully, and instinctively so the chemicals released into their bodies also switched off all mental processes not necessary for survival as these slowed down their ability to respond to the threat. It does the same thing to us on the golf course and includes narrowing the passageway between our conscious mind and the memory centers located in our sub- and unconscious minds, turning off our attentional and emotional control centers. These are unnecessary if we’re being chased by a saber-toothed tiger.

Your muscles become tense and/or jittery making fine-motor control impossible. No matter how hard you try nothing seems to work. Fortunately there are simple, powerful, scientifically proven techniques that, with practice, quiet your eyes and mind, focus your attention to a single point, relax your body, calm your nerves, and allow access to your memory centers so you can automatically reproduce your best swing, putting stroke, etc.

You can learn these mental game techniques in about fifteen minutes. Practicing them daily for about thirty days will make them as automatic and effective as you want your mechanics to be. Having the confidence to play well every time you step on the course not only requires mastering golf’s physical skills, it also requires having the knowledge, tools, and ability to automatically inhibit or reverse the effects of self-doubt, fear, and anxiety.

Photo by Tillers1

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Dr. Tony Piparo

Dr. Piparo has 25 years experience as a teaching professional, 15 as a head pro. He has also worked the last 20 years as a Sport Psychology Consultant, working with golfers of all ages and ability levels, from beginner to seasoned professional and elite level amateur. He earned his doctorate in 1992 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and winning the American Psychological Association’s Dissertation of the Year Honors for his work on concentration and performance in golf. He has a Masters from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Kinesiology (Study of Human Movement) with emphasis in Biomechanics, Motor Learning, and Sports Vision as they apply to golf. He also has a Masters in Educational Evaluation and Development, specializing in Learning Theory. Dr. Piparo’s education training and field experience allowed him to study the golf performance needs from both inside and outside the sport to develop the most effective, efficient, and comprehensive training system available to date. His programs and protocols are a benefit to all golfers and he is capable of assisting the individual needs of each golfer he works with. His books include Kingdom of the Tiger: A Golfer’s Guide to Playing in The Zone, Master the Art and Science of Putting and his latest collaboration with Colin Cromack, Target Oriented Golf: Training the Eyes, Mind, and Body for Success, all of which can be purchased here at

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