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The goal is a confident swagger to help sustain an emotional balance for all 18 holes.
The goal is a confident swagger to help sustain an emotional balance for all 18 holes. (.)

Going Deep! The Ultimate In Golf Confidence - Part 2

Dr. Alan EdmundsBy Dr. Alan Edmunds,
Special Contributor

In my first golf tips article, I explained what going deep with confidence was and I explained how you should set down different layers of confidence so that it becomes thick and resilient.

I also explained how this develops golf swagger, an inward sense of confidence that is with us all the time, not visible to the outside. In this article I'm going to outline how to add more layers of confidence and explain what you can do when your golf confidence goes in the tank. This will really create golf swagger.

Another level and type of deep golf confidence comes from having a significant person in your life that has an entirely supportive and non-judgmental respect for you as a golfer. These people are happy for you when you play well and they are there for you when you don't. They certainly don't treat you differently based on what you shot that day.

The problem is golfers don't usually think this type of support affects their confidence, except in a warm-‘n'-fuzzy kind of way. Therefore, they don't pay much attention to it. However, recent research on world-class athletes, including golfers, reports that this is a very important confidence factor for them.

Why would elite athletes say this? First, it's because knowing we have that type of unmitigated support is deeply empowering and true empowerment breeds true confidence. Second, I think it's important because having people who unconditionally support you is another layer of confidence that is not dictated by golf performance.

Therefore, your next task is to create confidence by consciously acknowledging a supportive person in your golf world. I get my clients to add it into their golf swagger because this will help them sustain their emotional balance for all 18 holes. It never goes away.

By now you're probably thinking, "That's fine Dr. Al, but what do I do when the wheels fall off and my confidence is shot to hell? C'mon, give me something I can use in an emergency!"

OK, fair enough. Your next task is to create confidence by building a "confidence vault." This will involve using two very powerful mental tools that you already have: visualization and emotion. But because confidence is built in layers, I'm also going to ask you to incorporate one of your previous layers practice to help build the vault.

Now, wait! Don't get cranky on me. This doesn't mean more practice, but it does mean getting more out of the practice you have already committed to doing.

You build your confidence vault by making regular and systematic "deposits" of excellent shots that are then used when you need a confidence boost. I get players to think of these systematized deposits as multiple layers. The more they deposit, the thicker and more resilient their confidence becomes.

To make a deposit, simply visualize an extremely good shot you played before and recall the emotional reward you felt when it happened. Your smooth 4-iron from 185 arching gently over the water to a tough pin and that delicate chip under the pine branches and over the bunker are very confident images. Even if it's a straight drive that is shorter than usual, it's a positive image.

Now go over and gently tap your golf bag, depositing your positive images, emotions and confidence. Do this every time you hit a great shot, on the course or on the range. These deposits will build layer upon layer of confidence until you have a bulging vault of stored successes - just like a fat bank account.

Now, when the wheels fall off and/or you need to get your game and your confidence back, shot-by-shot of course, go over to your golf bag and mentally take out one of your successful deposits to match the shot at hand. It's easy to visualize it because you've done it before. It's easy to recall the rewarding emotions of the shot because you've had them before. Both of these active mental functions breed enormous amounts of confidence. Now, with your confidence in place, simply play away.

My clients say that the best thing about constantly depositing layers of confidence into their vault is that they have lots of confidence available, even after they use some of it up. And, if they need more, they say they just practice and make more deposits.

One player even stated that it's almost cheating because he gets double bang for his buck out of his good shots. He gets the immediate benefit of the actual shot and a second benefit when he uses it to boost his confidence. I say he gets a triple bang because he often hits his next shot very well as a result of the first two.

Like the building process, the benefits of deep confidence also happen in layers.

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 aedmunds@uwo.ca.

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