Monday, February 1, 2016

You Either Got It Or......




Confidence is a familiar theme of this blog, because of it's importance to your success as a player.  How do you get confidence and how do you lose it?  Here are some answers, but the tough part is sticking to the answers when the pressure is high.

How to play confident golf!

  • Commit to the shot at hand.  As Dr. David Cook says, "See it, feel it, trust it."
    • This is one of those things that sounds easy when you're driving to the course and tough to do when the wind is whipping and you're in between clubs and the target looks small and you can't make a decision.  You get the idea.  Your pre-round commitment needs to ring true in your mind at this point and you need to choose a shot, commit to it, see it, feel it and trust it.
      • Did you catch that you need to have a pre-round commitment?  Decide what you want to do and script your success.  For example, "I will see every shot clearly before I step in to hit it." Or, "I will be 100% committed to the shot when I start my backswing."
      • You can take this a step further and track how well you perform your pre-round commitment by keeping a focus score.  Then you can track not just your physical game, but your mental game, too.
    • If you're a visual player, see the shot clearly.  Talk through the trajectory, the shape and the landing point either in your mind or out loud.
    • If you're a physical player, feel yourself making the swing in balance and with nice tempo.
    • If you're an auditory player, hear the great impact you'll have prior to making the swing.
  • Trust your preparation.
    • Know that what you've done is enough for success.  If you've dedicated yourself to your sport, you've put enough time and sweat into your practice to be ready.  
    • You're an athlete who can rise to any occasion.  If you're ill or had a busy week that got in the way of your preparation, you can dig deep into your experience and rely upon your athleticism. 
    • Feeling unprepared for a round or a situation is a defense-mechanism that allows you to perform below your best.  As Steven Yellin says, you have made enough deposits in your bank of experience to perform when it's time to go to the ATM and hit the shot.
If you think confidence is reliant upon a good result, you will always be watching your play for signs that its enough.  Know that it is enough and walk to the first tee with confidence in yourself and your ability to compete.

  • Let go of judgment, comparison and analytical thoughts.
    • A judgment is an opinion you form about a situation or action.  Your brain can be busy figuring out how to score as low as possible, or it can be busy forming opinions and becoming emotional about them.  You don't have the time or energy for both, so it's important to choose to play golf when you're on the golf course.  You will have plenty of time to judge your actions and intentions after the round.
    • Comparisons are silly, because the box on a scorecard has room for a number, but not for the style points it took to get the number.  If you're paired with a big hitter or a player who "makes everything" and you become concerned with their skills, you've become a spectator instead of a competitor.  Be yourself and play your game.  If you think it's enough, it is.
    • Analyzing your play, your problems or your game in general is once again brain power wasted during a round.  The moment you work to figure out the WHYS of what you're doing is the last moment you will be in the moment or focused on scoring.  It is a sure way to leak confidence, because you're giving power to problems, not scoring.
  • Be prepared for the situation, whatever it might be.
    • Mentally role play situations and you'll be able to handle them better than if you're surprised by them.  
    • Have your equipment ready to go.
    • Ask for things to be uncomfortable for you.  You have to want t.v. interviews even if you're shy.  You have to want a gallery and eyes on your game.  You have to want a knee knocker to win.  You have to want the other players gunning for you.  You have to want the biggest stage!
  • Fake it til you make it.
    • Your actions and your emotions are linked to each other.  There's a reason the military works so hard on boot camp posture; shoulders back, chest out, chin up and eyes forward are all markers of a confident person.  If you give in to bad body language for a moment, you allow for your actions and your emotions to marry and it's downhill from there.
    • If you have fear or doubts, you're the same as every player out there.  Everyone experiences these moments.  You need a game plan of what you want to think about instead of allowing yourself to get caught up in negativity out there.
  • Your foundation is your belief in yourself and everything else is reliant upon it.
    • Know that you will face many challenges in a round of golf and meet them with a calm and measured approach.
    • Know that you will make mistakes, but that you can always recover.  
    • Know that you are on a path to being the best golfer you can be, but paths aren't always smooth and every bump will lead to discovery and learning.
  • Find freedom
    • Figure out how to be "young at heart" on the course and play the game instead of working at it.
    • Hit your shot and let it go.  Your ego doesn't have to be attached to your results or your score.  Golf is what you do, not who you are.
    • Script both a pre shot routine that gets you ready for your shot and a post shot routine that allows you to move on to the next shot.  
      • Your routine should have physical, mental and emotional facets.  
        • Physically, you might have a waggle that keeps you loose or a trigger that signals readiness.  Tiger tugs his sleeve and you can tap your club on the ground to get it started.  You can also take a deep breath or focus your feeling on a body part, such as a tight stomach at address.  It's unique.
        • Mentally, you need to focus on what helps you perform.  For most, that is the target, but again, this is up to you and unique.  A swing thought, a tempo thought or a vision of the shot can all be your cue.
        • Emotionally, you need to balance excitement with patience.  Great players are enthusiastic about their own play and look forward to hitting the shot.  Struggling players are often unenthusiastic and feel anxiety before the shot.  Find the love you have for playing the game and be patient with yourself to keep that enthusiasm.  
Jordan Spieth is too busy playing to win to worry about whether or not he's confident.

      • Your post shot routine should be as planned as your pre shot routine.  It will help you stay in the moment, whether you hit a great shot or a poor one.  Give yourself a set routine, such as 10 yards to let it go or when the bag goes in the club, you're done with the shot.  Once again, have a physical, mental and emotional script.
        • Physical things such as a smile, a deep breath, a fist pump or a tug of the cap are all ways to trigger your happiness or unhappiness and finish with the shot.
        • Mentally tell yourself to put this one in the bank and move on or any message that helps you move from the result back to playing the game.
        • Emotionally, celebrate good shots and ground them.  Have a physical move to ground, such as tightening your fist, saying YES to yourself or carrying your club down the fairway.  Anything you choose that signifies your happiness is good.  When you hit a poor shot, don't ground it.  In other words, don't feed it with emotion.  Smile anyway, say NEXT SHOT to yourself or put the club away gently when ready and move on.
Freedom lies in belief in yourself and by remembering to bring enthusiasm and joy with you when you tee it up.  Finding enthusiasm on tough days is the mark of a competitor and finding joy in the challenge is the mark of a player who loves the game and all it offers.  It's up to you!  You have some work to do planning your path to confidence.  

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