Ten Tips to Build Confidence on the Course
By Ed Newton
As Jack Nicklaus says, confidence is probably the most important factor in playing golf to your potential.
Something that all PGA Tour players have in common is confidence. They all have the same swagger and confident demeanor. They don’t get affected when they hit bad shots because they know how counter-productive this is. They’ve trained their minds to prevent this happening. Some of this confidence comes from hitting A LOT of golf balls and winning a lot of tournaments, but some comes from knowing how to practice and control the mind and shut out negativity. But this can be practiced every time we play.
If we follow some basic rules, we too can work on a process to build unwavering confidence. While golfers know the end result of increased confidence, few know how to acquire and build it. Here are TEN things you can do EASILY to improve your confidence and lower your scores.
“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
1. Don’t be Self Critical. If you start to beat yourself up over your mistakes, you will reduce your positivity and it will be hard to regain it before your next and “most important” shot. Learn from your mistakes at the end of the round. Remember the quote: “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” With each round you become a more experienced golfer however you play. You can’t get rid of negative thoughts, only replace them with positive ones. The more positive your thinking, the fewer detrimental negative thoughts you will have.
“If you are trying to tell your body how to swing, you are telling yourself you don’t know how to swing.”
2. Don’t Give Yourself Technical Feedback on the Golf Course. Giving yourself technical feedback diminishes your confidence because you are admitting to yourself that you doubt your golf swing. As Bob Rotella says, “If you are trying to tell your body how to swing, you are telling yourself you don’t know how to swing.” Thinking about technique takes your focus away from what is ultimately important: hitting the ball to a specific target with a clearly visualized path. As I mentioned earlier, the golf swing takes place during a couple of seconds, so even the slightest thought about your body movement will cause you to lose focus on the shot itself.
“Every shot should have a purpose.”
3. Visualize and Feel. The more vividly you can see a shot and the less you see what you fear, the more your body will respond to the positive visual stimulus. Every shot should have a purpose. Synchronizing the body and mind with a clearly defined objective will increase confidence. Hogan used to say he only hit 3-4 shots each round exactly as he intended, but it was having commitment to the shot he visualized that made the others not too far off line.
“When you have a good routine, even when you are in a high pressure situation you can feel confident you have approached the shot correctly.”
4. Develop a Strong Shot Routine. When you have a good pre-shot routine, even when you are in a high pressure situation you can feel confident you have approached the shot correctly. Your fundamentals are right and you have mentally and physically rehearsed the shot. This is the time to compose yourself and feel prepared and confident ahead of pulling the trigger. An additional part of the routine should be the next tip of how you react to the shot.
“One of the keys to becoming a better player is quickly letting go of the past and staying in the present.”
5. React Indifferently to Bad Shots. Holding on to poor shots is extremely counter-productive. The longer we hold onto them, the more frustrated we become and the longer it will take to regain that lost confidence. One of the keys to becoming a better player is quickly letting go of the past and staying in the present. After all, the present is where we need to be to give every shot our best intention. If you hit a bad shot, look up to the sky or focus on the beauty of your surroundings. Quickly realizing the relative insignificance of what happened will put it in perspective and allow you to move on immediately.
“Overcoming nerves, doubt and fear and succeeding will make you stronger and more confident.”
6. Take Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone. Overcoming nerves, doubt and fear and succeeding will make you stronger and more confident. When you put yourself in situations where you are out of your comfort zone and pulling through will increase your confidence in the longer term. Rely on your pre shot routine under pressure and try is as often as you can.
7. Change Your Goals. Make the “process” of hitting good golf shots your goal for the round instead of shooting your best score. Focus on executing your routine of Analysis, Visualization, Feel and Trust will help your game in the longer-term instead of judging your performance by your score.
“Breed confidence by thinking of the positives.”
8. Focus On What You Did Well. When you finish your round, be honest with yourself about what you need to work on but think mostly about what you did well. The more you can re-live those great shots you played the more confident you will become. Breed confidence by thinking of the positives.
9. Recall pass success. During your shot routine you need to be firmly in the present moment. But in between shots, when you feel your confidence dipping, recall your past successes. Thinking about times where you were in control and succeeding, can lift your spirits.
10. Believe in Yourself! There is simply no reason not to.
Every shot should have a purpose. Synchronizing the body and mind with a clearly defined objective will increase confidence.
Making an Impact
A 6-year-old Massachusetts boy has raised $25,000 for cancer research by playing 100 holes of golf in one day in memory of a classmate who died of the disease. Ryan McGuire, of Foxborough, completed the golf marathon at MGA Links at Mamantapett, a par-3 course in Norton. Ryan played the 100 holes in memory of his kindergarten buddy, Danny Nickerson, who died in April of a rare and inoperable form of pediatric brain cancer. He got the idea to play 100 holes of golf because his mother, Cheryl, is the program director of Golf Fights Cancer, a nonprofit organization that encourages golfers to play and raise money for cancer-related charities. Ryan tells The Sun Chronicle of Attleboro that he “just wanted to do it for Danny.”
In Another’s Words
“When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.”
– Joe Namath (Former NFL Quarterback)