How To Build Confidence For Golf

A Daily Ritual For Bullet Proof Confidence

How much we believe we can do something affects how much desire we have, and ultimately, how successful we are. 

The more certain we are about something happening, the more effort we put in and the more our behaviors and actions lead us towards that outcome (or our potential).

As Angela Duckworth, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, says:

  • Talent x effort = skill
  • Skill x effort = achievement

Albert Bandura, Professor of Social Science in Psychology at Stanford says: “The amount of effort put into a task is directly related to self-efficacy” (the belief in one’s capabilities of successfully completing tasks or goals).

So in other words, without self-efficacy, or “self-belief” we will not reach our potential.

Where does self belief come from?

Your subconscious mind is responsible for how confident you are in your ability to perform a task. Your subconscious mind’s primary role is to keep you safe. It doesn’t “think” (like your conscious mind), but what it does is much more powerful. 80% of our behaviors are subconscious.

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 for golf 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. 

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David MacKenzie

is a golf coach and golf publisher and lives in Washington DC. He is the founder of Golf State of Mind a teaching program designed to help golfers eliminate negative mental interference and play with confidence.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Eddie Cottrell

    I used your ideas for routine set up and mental strength and my game has improved immeasurably.

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