Confidence is key if you are going to reach new levels in your play. But what is it and how do you get more of it?
Confidence is a feeling that you can succeed. It makes golf a lot easier by quietening that little voice in your head and gives you better access to your best swings. Everything is more fluid, automatic and effortless.
But where does confidence come from? Is it all from your past results (reactive) or do you have more (proactive) control over creating “the feeling” than you think?
Occasionally I’ll get a call from a player who says they have “lost” their confidence after playing poorly in some recent rounds. In the list below I’ve included a number of things you can do to turn things around and build more confidence from within. Make these a regular practice, so you are not solely dependent on your results for your confidence levels.
How To Build Confidence In Golf
Remember past successes
Use mental imagery to remind yourself of times you’ve had success on the course. Using imagery and visualization for golf is a powerful way to increase confidence before you play.
Examine Self talk
How are you talking to yourself on the course? You might want to change your tone and speak to yourself with compassion and support instead of criticism.
Notice your body language
Are you walking tall with shoulders back (a “power pose”) or are you hunched and looking down in a weak posture? Studies have shown that mood and confidence is affected by your posture.
Notice your breathing
Are you in control of your breathing? Neuroscience tells us that deep diaphragmatic breathing with a long, slow exhale is key to stimulating the vagus nerve which lowers heart rate and makes you feel less anxious.
Adopt a better attitude to failure
Look at failure in a positive way. Great players see failure as a reminder of what they need to do to get better, not that they just “aren’t good enough”. You’re going to fall down many times along the way, but to have long-term success, you need to keep getting up.
Be Better Prepared
Get sufficient rest, eat better and warm up properly before rounds.
Realistically assess skill level and set a plan for improvement
Create a plan with goals to figure out where are you going and what steps you are going to take to get there. Develop an effective practice regimen. Hitting short-term goals along the way builds confidence.
When you workout your body produces endorphins which improves your mood and confidence. When you’re done, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something.
Golf is cyclical in nature
In golf, there are ups and downs for every player. Remember that something good is just around the corner.
Have good routines and focus on what you can control
Develop your own and write them down. Measure success in your rounds by how well you did these things, the in between shot time, and your attitude. These are the things that are within your control. Focus on these, not the uncertainty of what might happen in the future.
Beware of Ego Golf
Make sure you’re not playing for your ego, caring too much about what people think. This will set you up for big swings in confidence. Bad shots and rounds hurt more when you do this. You have to play to grow your own game (mastery golf) and embrace the ups and downs as part of the journey to better.
Boost Your Confidence With Mental Game Coaching!
Mental Game Coach, David MacKenzie, can help you or your junior golfer improve mental toughness and build confidence with personal coaching.
You can work with David himself in Washington D.C. or via Skype, FaceTime, or telephone.
What are our students saying?
“David has helped me reach a new level in my golf game. He has equipped me with a toolbox full of techniques to help me succeed in high pressure situations. One of the things we have focused on is building a process that works for me and that I can rely on. Since I started working with David I have learned how to build confidence, which is a key to competing at the highest level.”
~Maia Schechter, Symetra Tour