7 simple steps to stop the bleeding.
In my last post, I explored the nature of confidence. But how can we use that knowledge out on the links?
The difficulties faced by one young man in the last round of this year’s Masters mean this topic needs little justification. Loss of confidence and on course collapses are at the front of every golfer’s mind. Why does one man’s misfortune resonate with us like this?
We’ve all been there.
Our round might have started well, but now it’s crashing down around us. We’re struggling to remember our last good shot…or even why we love golf. The temptation is to rip up the card and head back to the club to drown our sorrows.
After all, we can’t improve things from here…can we?
Searching the internet for “Golf confidence tips” brings up a slew of seemingly encouraging results. However, a closer look reveals these golf tips aren’t any use to us out on the course.
Golf tips like “have a rock-solid routine”, “prepare well” and “work on your visualisation” are all very well…but require significant amounts of work before coming out to play. So what can we do? Is there any way we can stop the rot and get our round back on track? Of course we can.
Here are 7 techniques I use to claw back some confidence when the wheels come off.
- Walk Tall. As soon as I find myself struggling, my posture changes. I hunch over, tighten up and scurry apologetically around the course, staring down at the ground. This lowers my confidence even more and my play deteriorates. I’ve caught myself doing this on several occasions. As soon as I realise this, I correct my posture – shoulders back, head up, gaze out toward the horizon – and this always helps.
- Monitor your self-talk. It’s incredibly easy to slip into an internal “you suck” monologue. I used to catch myself thinking “I’m never going to get better at this game”; my game (and my enjoyment) improved when I realised this was untrue. I’m not advocating mindless “you’re the greatest golfer that ever lived” affirmations here, just a realistic rebuttal of these thoughts. “I’m working hard on my game and I will improve.”
- Focus on what’s going well. We tend to dwell on our disappointments as we play. It might be natural for us to do this, but it’s not helping our confidence. Take some time between shots to mull over what has gone well – you may surprise yourself.
- Celebrate your victories. Be careful; I’m not for a second suggesting doing laps around the 18th green bellowing “In your FACE!”. I’m talking about the little victories that happen throughout our rounds, a good shot from heavy rough or a sweetly struck chip. We emphasise our disappointments and take our good shots for granted. This ensures we recall our bad shots; strong emotional reactions result in vivid recollections. Enjoy the praise you receive with a “thank you” and reinforce it with a grin.
- Play to your strengths. This isn’t rocket science – but it’s amazing how many of us are playing the game we think we should play and not the game we know we can play. Par 5′s are the classic example. Most golfers struggle with their 3 wood from the fairway, but automatically reach for this club for their second shot. If we stopped to think, most of us would get better results from hitting a couple of 9 irons. Don’t fall into this trap.
- Concentrate on feel. This is probably the hardest one to follow. When our swings are off it’s tempting to tinker with mechanics, but this is an express-ticket to Frustration-ville. I have a tendency to go down this route and yet my results are far better if I focus on making a smooth, rhythmical swing. Might yours be too?
- Smile. Golf should be fun. Seriously. We devote large a chunk of our precious weekends to it but a casual observer could be forgiven for thinking it’s a form of penance. We get so caught up in the frustrations of the game we forget why we’re there. I get most of my enjoyment from exercising in the fresh air in good company. Performance is tiny consideration by comparison and it’s vital we realise this.
And there we have it. 7 simple steps to revive our flagging self-belief. Sadly, using these tips won’t guarantee we’ll save our score. They’re simple steps…but that doesn’t mean they’re easy. The art is knowing when our round is starting to slip away from us; it’s better to start these measures as early as possible. The longer we leave it, the more difficult it is to arrest the decline…and the more damage we do to our score. But it’s always worth practising these skills, even if we feel our score is beyond redemption. At the very least, we’ll enjoy our round more.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have any of these techniques worked for you? Do you think any of my tips are unhelpful? Do you have any other techniques that you use on the course? Please let me know, either in the comments section or via Twitter. I’d be delighted to hear from you.
As ever, if you find this helpful, please feel free to use the “Like” or “Retweet” buttons to let others know. If you’d like to make sure you never miss a blog post, please subscribe to get my posts dropped directly into your email inbox twice a month.