“Confidence is the most important single factor in this game, and no matter how great your natural talent, there is only one way to obtain and sustain it: work.” ~ Jack Nicklaus.
As Jack Nicklaus says, confidence is probably the most important factor in playing golf to your potential.
Something that all PGA Tour players have in common is confidence. They all have the same swagger and confident demeanor.
Some of this confidence comes from hitting A LOT of golf balls and winning tournaments, but much of it comes from within. But this can be practiced every time we play.
If we follow some basic rules, we too can work on a process to build unwavering confidence in our games. Here are TEN things you can do EASILY to improve your confidence and lower your scores.
“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
1. Don’t be Self Critical. If you start to beat yourself up over your mistakes, you will reduce your positivity and it will be hard to regain it before your next and “most important” shot. Learn from your mistakes at the end of the round. With each round you become a more experienced golfer however you play. You can’t get rid of negative thoughts, but you can choose to ignore them and replace them with positive ones. The more positive your thinking, the fewer detrimental negative thoughts you will have.
“If you are trying to tell your body how to swing, you are telling yourself you don’t know how to swing.”
2. Don’t Give Yourself Technical Feedback on the Golf Course. Giving yourself technical feedback diminishes your confidence because you are admitting to yourself that you doubt your golf swing. As Bob Rotella says, “If you are trying to tell your body how to swing, you are telling yourself you don’t know how to swing.” Thinking about technique takes your focus away from what is ultimately important: hitting the ball to a specific target with a clearly visualized path. As I mentioned earlier, the golf swing takes place during a couple of seconds, so even the slightest thought about your body movement will cause you to disconnect with the intention.
Every shot should have a purpose.
3. Visualize and Feel. The more vividly you can see the target and the shot you intend to hit, the less you will see what you fear. Putting the intention into the subconscious mind, can help synchronizing the body and mind and increase the chance of success. Hogan used to say he only hit 3-4 shots each round exactly as he intended, but it was having commitment to the shot he visualized that made his misses so small.
When you have a good routine, even when you are in a high pressure situation you can feel confident you have approached the shot correctly.
4. Develop a Strong Shot Routine. When you have a good pre shot routine for golf, even when you are in a high pressure situation you can still feel confident and less uncomfortable. If your fundamentals are right and you have mentally and physically rehearsed the shot, you’ve done all you can do to produce a good swing.
One of the keys to becoming a better player is quickly letting go of the past and staying in the present.
5. React Indifferently to Bad Shots. Holding on to poor shots is extremely counter-productive. The longer we hold onto them, the more negative emotion we create and the longer it will take to regain that lost confidence. One of the keys to becoming a better player is quickly letting go of the past and staying in the present. After all, the present is where we need to be to give every shot our best intention. If you hit a bad shot, look up to the sky or focus on the beauty of your surroundings. Quickly realizing the relative insignificance of what happened will put it in perspective and allow you to move on immediately.
Overcoming nerves, doubt and fear and succeeding will make you stronger and more confident.
6. Take Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone. Overcoming nerves, doubt and fear and succeeding will make you a stronger and more confident player. You’ll need to learn how to reduce your heart rate, lower tension and stay mentally sharp. Check out my Mental Game Fundamentals eBook for techniques to do this.
7. Change Your Goals. Make the a”process” of hitting good golf shots your goal for the round instead of shooting your best score. Focus on executing your routine of Analysis, Visualization, Feel and Trust will help your game in the longer-term instead of judging your performance by your score.
Breed confidence by thinking of the positives.
8. Focus On What You Did Well. When you finish your round, be honest with yourself about what you need to work on but think mostly about what you did well. The more you can re-live those great shots you played the more confident you will become. Breed confidence by thinking of the positives.
9. Recall pass success. During your shot routine and in between shots you need to be firmly in the present moment, but if you feel your confidence dipping, recall some of your past success. Thinking about times where you were in control and succeeding, can lift your spirits.
10. Believe in Yourself! There is simply no reason not to.
Photo by US Army