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Golfing With Confidence – You Are In Control
Golf is a game of confidence. You’ve said it. I’ve said it. Everyone says it. Bob Rotella even wrote a book by that name. If confidence is so important then the more we know about confidence and the more confident we can be on the course the better we’ll play.
What is Confidence?
The dictionary defines confidence as “the full trust, belief or reliability of (or in) a thing, and the firm belief in one’s powers, abilities, or capacities.” What it means in practical terms on the course is a feeling of knowing exactly what is going to happen on your shot before you even hit it.
When you are confident about a shot you make a smoother, more athletic and automatic swing. There is no tension, no mental interference or chatter, and no anxiety caused by FUD factors (fear, uncertainty, doubt).
Confidence is almost self-fulfilling. When you are confident you are going to hit the shot you want, you make the swing that produces the results you want. We call this internal confidence.
Confidence is also self-reinforcing. Confidence on one shot can help produce confidence on the second shot. Two confident shots make it easier to be confident on the third shot, and so on. We refer to this as external confidence (more on internal and external confidence later).
The Confidence Challenge
The challenge is that confidence is one of those nebulous things you either seem to have or not have. Sure, you’d like to be confident over every shot. But how?
What I’d like to suggest is that you have more control over your confidence than you may realize.
Components of Confidence
When I speak to groups about confidence we’ll often do an exercise where we list as many components or descriptive attributes of confidence as we can. They’ll come up with words like: positive, trust, belief, control, ability, conviction, commitment, faith, calm, comfort, knowing, reliability, will, courage, focus, and others. Then we go back through the list and evaluate these descriptive words to see whether or not we have control over these aspects of confidence. The group is usually surprised to learn that they have control over almost all of them. In other words, if Faith and Courage are the most important aspects of confidence to you, in any given situation you can “choose” to have faith or courage.
The key thing is to understand what is important to you, then make a conscious choice over something you can have control. If staying calm is important to you, you can choose a strategy that will enable you to be comfortable or remain calm. The more you make conscious choices over things you can control, the more confidence you build.
The answer they arrive at is that if they have control over the aspects of confidence, they have more control over their confidence than they realize. The trick is to boil the aspects of confidence down to the key elements so they can quickly select a strategy that produces a confident swing.
The three C’s of Confidence: Commitment, Comfort, Concentration
When I was conducting my mental skills training course for my Master’s thesis the participants spent considerable time evaluating the elements of confidence. Since confidence is a key precursor to playing “in the zone”, where we usually play our very best golf, we wanted to learn as much about confidence as we could.
Ultimately the study found three aspects of confidence to be the most important. They are what I refer to as the three C’s of Confidence: Commitment, Comfort, and Concentration.
I’ll describe more about the three C’s in the next newsletter and how you can use them to enhance your own confidence on the course. But for now I’d like to leave you with an action item you may find insightful: The Confidence Scorecard.
Action Step: The next time you play keep a “confidence” score card. Grab a score card and use it just for your shots to keep a record of your confidence level on each shot. On the left hand side where you would normally put names, fill in the blanks instead with “tee shot” “fairway” “chip” “first putt” “second putt.” After each shot record your confidence level in the boxes where you would normally put the scores. Use a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being totally confident. It’s a subjective measure, so you’ll get the hang of it as you go along. If you don’t have a particular shot on a hole (like a chip or second putt) leave the space blank.
At the end of the round look back over your confidence scorecard. After 18 holes you will likely see trends. In some situations you’ll be consistently confident about your shot. In others you may consistently score low in confidence. Wherever you see consistently low ratings you’ve identified an area of your game where you probably need to improve your skills. Whenever you see consistently high confidence scores you’ve identified an area of strength in your game you’ll want to emphasize in future rounds.
I’d love to hear your comments. Please post them below!