Confidence is a vital ingredient to success in golf, and all golfers can experience lapses in it from time to time. Some feel it the most when they first take up the game, regularly comparing their handicap or score with that of others. Even seasoned golfers battle twinges of self-doubt and fear when faced with new experiences, changes to their game, injury, or unexpected challenges. The best defense is to take the necessary steps to build your confidence on an unshakeable foundation. As you have progressed through life, like most people, you’ve probably tried to feed your confidence through achievements and performance results. So much of success in life and golf is measured by outcomes – your index, score, standing at your home club, etc. But that introduces a “which came first — the chicken or the egg” scenario.
To perform at peak levels in golf, do you need to be confident? Or to be confident, do you have to have experience performing at peak levels?
The answer to this dichotomy resides within the cycle of performance. The origin of performance in sport, business, relationships, or any other endeavor begins with your perception of your capacity to meet the challenge you face at any given time, as well as the challenge itself. What might appear to be an inconsequential obstacle to one golfer, may be perceived as unwieldy to another. Similarly, your limiting beliefs may leave you doubting whether the resources you possess are adequate to clear the hurdle in front of you.
- Your perception influences your attitude.
- Your attitude directs your focus.
- Your focus fuels your emotions.
- Your emotions drive your actions.
- And your actions provide proof, that reaffirms or disputes your originating belief — your self-perception.
When you understand the flow of the performance cycle, and more importantly, where everything begins, it becomes clear that performance excellence must be initiated on the inside and work it’s way out into your game.
Girding Up Your Confidence
You are your own worst critic, and nothing erodes confidence faster than focusing on your failures and deficits, rather than your assets and successes. What you spend the most time thinking about, talking about, and worrying about becomes what you produce, especially when the pressure is on. Undoing old ways of thinking is not easy. You can’t stuff or erase negative thinking, so it’s a matter of learning how to REPLACE it with better thinking. Your thought process must begin with who you really believe you are, and what you have to leverage to reach your goals in golf.
Oh no! I’m in the trap, and I hate playing out of the sand.
My opponent just hit that drive a country mile.
I can’t compete with that. Great! Another water shot. I know where this shot’s headed.
I’ve been working on my sand wedge, so now’s my chance to test it under pressure.
I can easily hit the center of the fairway, which will set me up to maximize the strength of my short game.
Nothing stands between me and my shot reaching my target.
Improving your thinking starts when you can be honest about your fears.
Write them down to make them real to you, then look at them at face value. What you will find is that your fear doesn’t have the substance you thought it once did. As you begin to strategically think your way to solutions by focusing on your assets, the lessons you’ve learned, your gifts and talent, not only do you boost your confidence from the inside-out, but also take back the power over your fear.
So don’t wait for your golf score, shot distance, or handicap to prove to you that you should be a confident player, or you will spend all your time waiting. Create a list of your greatest assets that you’ve developed from all walks of your life, and add to it daily. When you consciously shift your mindset to make plans, work out problems, and face your biggest challenges from a place of power, you will find yourself operating from a foundation of unshakeable confidence.