|Golfers with deep confidence use specific strategies that make them feel totally secure on the course. (.)|
Confidence is one of the most important mental factors in golf. With it we perform well and without it, well - we just don't perform.
While golfers know what confidence does, many golfers do not know what confidence is or how to get it. In this two-part series I'm going explain what it is and tell you how to go about developing the ultimate in golf confidence.
What is golf confidence? First of all, it's not an on-off switch where you either have it or you don't. It may feel like that some days, but a lack of confidence is not an absence of confidence, it's not having enough or not having the right type.
I tell my clients to think of confidence as something that occurs on a continuum and develops in layers. The continuum ranges from low to high and the layers range from thin and fragile to thick and resilient. These two articles will outline how you can develop high confidence that is thick and resilient and works well under pressure.
In its simplest form, golf confidence is feeling good about your abilities and having positive thoughts when you play. Lots of golfers also try to "forget" about their shank or their quad with no penalty strokes, but they don't. Why not? It's because they have shallow confidence; mindset that is dominated by thoughts of whether they will play well.
The classic example is the golfer whose confidence is evident on the first tee but immediately disappears after one or two bad shots or holes and immediately reappears after good ones. Shallow confidence is at the lowest end of the continuum because it is only based on knowledge and it is thin and fragile because it is not based on active mental strategies. Golf confidence does not happen because we know about it, it happens because we work at it.
Golfers would be better off acquiring "deep confidence"; a stable, consistent and reliable mind set in which golfers believe they can play well. The classic example is the golfer who never lets one or two bad shots, holes or rounds affect them. Their confidence is built by active mental strategies and isn't performance-dependent.
Deep confidence is demonstrated by how you think, what you do and how you react after an occasional gaff. It's an overall and pervasive sense that you can consistently execute when you need to. It's trusting your abilities and it's disciplining yourself to have more confidence in your game than doubts.
Golfers with deep confidence play this way because they use specific strategies that make them feel totally secure on the golf course. I want you to go deep with your confidence and walk to the first tee thinking "I can play well!" rather than worrying "Will I will play well?"
There's a hint on how to get it in the following comment by Phil Mickelson. After a terrible 2003 he won the 2004 Bob Hope Classic. In describing his change of fortunes he said, "Last year my confidence just slowly, slowly dwindled. After the time off I took and the work I accomplished on my conditioning and my game, I couldn't wait to get out and start playing. I was just itching."
I want your confidence to go deep, your scores to go deep, and I want you to be itchin'!
Deep confidence comes from carefully setting down layers of different types of confidence. These layers are interrelated and form a mental approach that is thick and resilient like rubber, not thin and fragile like glass.
Deep confidence is the psychological security that we can hold up under pressure and the physical security that we can perform skillfully. You can think positive but all is for naught if you can't perform.
Therefore, to set down your first three layers, create confidence by setting and achieving personal golf goals.
Which goals? Well, nothing builds confidence more rapidly and sustains it like having reliable skills.
Imagine how confident you would be if you knew your good skills would be there every time you teed it up? Not your best skills, just your everyday skills and your normal game. If you're like me, you'll be smiling and taking all the bets your partners' wallets could suffer! That's deep! This doesn't necessarily mean taking lessons, but it does mean practicing.
It's faith in our respective golf skills that builds unshakeable confidence, not striving for perfection. I can't guarantee that your regular game will always show up, but I guarantee it won't if you don't give it a chance!
Physically working on your game to build confidence is the first layer. Your second layer comes from your "positive decision" to work on your game. Don't downplay your conscious and courageous decision to do the right thing. Give yourself credit for it and pump your confidence.
Your third layer is a product of the first two because having a plan and practicing engrains an extra deep order of confidence, one that comes from "sincerely knowing" you have done your homework. I call this golf swagger and all my clients love it.
Golf swagger is an unshakeable inner sense of confidence that's with us all the time, not outwardly visible but realistic and tangible on the inside. It is not susceptible to performance. It's there for the long haul.
In the next article I'll tell you how to use more layers to develop ultimate confidence and I'll outline what to do when the confidence wheels really fall off.
February 28, 2006
Alan Edmunds, PhD is a golf sports psychology researcher, writer and head coach of women's golf program at the University of Western Ontario. He has helped top amateurs and university teams develop the finer mental aspects of the grand old game. His book "Golf on Auto Focus" (available shortly) addresses some of the most puzzling psychological elements of golf and his golf psychology seminars are engaging, humorous and practical. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.