Permanent Golf Confidence (Part I)
This article is the first in a two-part series on golf confidence. Here, I define what good golf confidence is and what it isn’t. In the second article I’ll provide some proven methods for establishing meaningful confidence. For more information of golf confidence, check out my recent book, Golf on Auto Focus: Training Your Brain to Better Your Game. In it you will find a scientifically proven method for boosting confidence, playing better golf, and lowering your scores.
For Permanent Golf Confidence, Ya Gotta Go Deep! (Part I)
Confidence is one of the most important features of mental toughness. It’s also one of the most important factors of good golf. Not surprisingly then, when we are confident we are mentally tough and we play better golf. When we are not confident we don’t perform well at all. And, the biggest problem of them all is when golfers lose their confidence and can’t get it back. The only thing worse that not having something, is having it and losing it. Talk about being lost in the woods.
So, while many players know what confidence does for our game, most do not know what it is, how to get it, and/or what to do to get it back once it is gone. In this two-part series I’m going explain what good golf confidence really is and tell you how to go about developing it.
What is Golf Confidence?
In its best form, golf confidence is first, about having an unshakeable belief in your abilities and second, having positive thoughts about your abilities when you play. A lot of golfers miss shots because they lose faith in their abilities, not because they can’t hit the shot or have a less-than-perfect swing. In many golfers, I see confidence functioning like an on-off switch where you either have it or you don’t. Not a good place to be. Your good golf confidence needs to be a more permanent fixture of your psyche. Furthermore, losing ones’ confidence is not an absence of lack of confidence, as it is often described. I believe it’s more about not having the right type of confidence. 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 (like glass) to thick and resilient (like a hockey puck). I want you to develop a more permanent confidence that is thick and resilient and, most importantly, works well under pressure.
Shallow Confidence – A Fool’s Game
Why is it golfers of all stripes cannot “forget” about their shank or their quad-with-no-penalty-strokes, and why is it that whatever confidence they had before these disasters immediately starts circling the drain? It’s because they are relying on what I call shallow confidence; an on-off switch type of mind-set that is dominated by worrisome thoughts of whether they will play well. These folks may look like they have it all together but deep inside they are hoping and dreaming they play well, “Hmm, I wonder how’s it’s gonna go today?” It’s classic. This type of player strolls up to the first tee brimming with confidence and as long as he starts well and plays well, his confidence remains. But, this weak and fragile confidence immediately and completely disappears after one or two bad shots or holes. The most tell-tale sign of shallow confidence is that it seems to mysteriously reappear after some good play. Why? It’s because his shallow confidence is thin and fragile and, like a pane of glass, it is easily shattered. It’s not real confidence, it’s a weak facsimile based solely on performance and it’s certainly not based on his deep rooted belief in himself or his abilities.
Deep Confidence – The Ultimate Way to Play
Unfortunately, many golfers think that because they know about confidence and have felt it, they have it. Wrong! Golf confidence in its optimum form occurs because golfers do the right things to mentally and emotionally establish it and maintain it. Yes, some athletes come by their confidence naturally, but even they need to do some serious homework to acquire what I call deep confidence; it’s a stable, consistent and reliable mind-set in which golfers believe they are good and can play well. This is a mind-set that is not 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 to make themselves feel totally secure on the golf course. No emotional explosions or performance implosions from these players.
I want you to go deep with your confidence and walk to the first tee thinking “I can play well!” Here’s a great example from one of the best players in the world. After a terrible 2003, Phil Mickelson 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’!
In the next article I’ll outline how you can develop the ultimate in deep confidence, a confidence that is far more reliable and permanent. I’ll also outline what to do when your confidence wheels fall off because that happens to everyone.