Words have the power to make or break your golf game. If you’re not consistently playing well then it’s important to consider how negative labels are undermining your confidence.
Is how you think about yourself and your game different depending on how you play?
If your answer is yes, then you’re in good company. Most golfers operate with different labels depending on how they feel about their game in the aftermath of a round. When you play well you may think more highly of yourself and your game than when you’ve had a rough round.
Do you compare yourself to other golfers? Do you ever worry about how you’ll play when you get paired with someone you think is a better golfer than you are?
Comparison thinking just skews your perspective of yourself. You should never measure yourself using someone else’s yardstick. How far you’ve advanced in comparison to your own performance history and goals is what matters most.
Why Labels Are So Important to Your Success
Your self-image is the guiding force behind your performance. When you label yourself as a golfer who is erratic off the tee, someone who is very nervous over short putts, or a player who yips chip shots around the green you will perform according to that label. This is what is known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. What you believe to be true will become your reality.
Negative labels create self-defeating thoughts that will undermine your confidence in your game. And negative labels tend to stem from the bad habit of tracking your losses, misses, and embarrassing moments on the course. To play with confidence you must first be confident in yourself. You can be confident in yourself when you learn to track your successes and not your failures.
You may be thinking, “But wouldn’t I be lying to myself about my ability?” The answer is no. You are simply being selective about the information you choose to use to ground your image of yourself.
Take an Honest Look at Your Game
If you want to hit more solid shots you’ve got to believe you are capable of doing so first. The more you play with self-doubt the more doubt-ridden poor shots you will make. Look at the positive side of your performance, the side that you would like to experience more often. Then build labels around the strengths you possess that are reflected in those positive moments.
“I can hit straight and solid shots off the tee.”
“I make 3-foot putts.”
“I have lots of experience successfully hitting out of green side bunkers.”
The labels you assign to yourself are your choice. You are the only one who can police your thought habits. And self-doubt is nothing more than a bad habit.
Starting today, I challenge you to focus more on your successes, create labels that align with them, and confidently step into your best game by choice. Stop waiting to see how things go before deciding how you’re going to see yourself and feel about your game. Speculation can be exchanged for determination and solid self-belief.
Carve Out Time for Change
Change never happens overnight. So if you’ve got some relabeling work to do, be persistent in your use of more appropriate, success-driven labels and see how your game begins to change over the next few months.
Great golf is a combination of your current level of competence and your confidence. And you must believe in your competence as a player in order to feel confident about your play.
Take some time today to think about how you’ve been labeling yourself as a player. Are your labels based on a comparison, your failures, or a real assessment of the strengths you bring to the game. No matter where you are in your development as a player — beginner, advanced, or someplace in-between — you are a great player right where you are. But until you believe that to be true, you will never reach your potential.