Competitive golfers are always in search of the elusive characteristic called confidence. For some, they had it and now have “lost it". Others, claim never to have had it, and aren’t really sure what it is. Still more know what it is because they “see it in others", but don’t think they have enough for themselves. Read about, watch, or listen to athletes as they talk about confidence, and how revered this trait is. The specific answer for optimal confidence is somewhat dependent on each person’s own set of circumstances. Talent, opportunity, skill, luck, and many other factors can be plugged into the confidence equation. However, there are 4 steps you can use to instill the confidence of a championship golfer.
1. If you want to have the confidence of a champion, then begin training like a champion.
Confidence comes primarily from optimal preparation and a sense of having all the requisite tools in the toolbox to adequately address the competitive situations that might confront you. This means work hard on your technical, physical, and mental preparation, or be prepared to face the inevitable consequence of self-doubt and worry when faced with difficulty when performing.
2. Catch yourself doing things right.
Most of us, when asked, can recount a litany of things that we didn’t do well the last time we were on the golf course. How many things can you recall that you did well? Most of us have expectations that we’re supposed to do certain things when we compete, and fail to give ourselves the credit due when we do these (so-called) routine things. Every time you hit the drive into the fairway, make a four-foot putt, or hit a green in regulation is a positive accomplishment. How many deposits do you make in your confidence bank? If you’re like most, you’re certainly making plenty of withdrawals!
3. Strengthen your weaknesses.
Make an honest accounting of where you believe yourself to be weakest and do whatever it takes to improve. This can be a physical or mental area, and addressing the “weakest link" will boost your confidence. Virtually every player with whom I’ve worked has a particular area of his or her game that feels weak relative to the rest, and few people are willing to put in the extra time and energy to overcome this. It’s usually more enjoyable and less frustrating to work on our strengths.
4. Measure yourself against your own criteria.
Many people allow their confidence to be shaken easily and quickly because of comparisons to others. How many of us have experienced the circumstance where we’re feeling pretty good about our abilities, only to permit our egos to be bruised because someone else we see is faster, stronger, more consistent, or more proficient? This is toxic to our confidence, without regard to how we’re performing. If, instead, we measure our performance based on our own realistic expectations and where we are developmentally, we are much less likely to be caught up in the race to be as good as someone else. Instead, we are in the race to improve ourselves and rely on our own standard to evaluate our gains and/or setbacks.
Jeff Troesch, MA, LMHC is an internationally recognized expert in the mental side of golf. As the former Director of Sport Psychology for the David Leadbetter Golf Academies, Jeff has worked with thousands of golfers nationwide and brings a wealth of experience to seasoned golf professionals as well as the recreational golf lover. You may contact Jeff directly through his website, http://www.fitnessforgolf.com.