Getting it Back
when your confidence wanders off on the golf course
My introduction to the golfing world was about 25 years ago working with a young professional who had anger issues. He only ever had rage and ‘lost it’ when he was playing golf and often, after berating himself, his club ended up in the lake.
Away from the golf course he was was fun and unstressed but something triggered when he played. He always felt he could do better and the stress he imposed on himself would build and then blow like a pressure cooker.
We worked successfully together which led me to be invited to Foxhills Country Club, Ottershaw to give a talk and work with their members. Since then I have worked with golfers of all standards from hobbyists, obsessives right through to 'names'.
My methods complement whatever else you might be doing; alone or with a Professional.
Getting it Back
It’s one of those lovely days again and you’re off to play golf. You feel good and all is well with your world. You tee off at the first and think to yourself, ’So what was that all about?’ ~ as you watch the ball disappear no where near the place you wanted it to go. You decide it’s first tee nerves and try again. But oh dear, another rubbish shot followed very quickly by another. With each successive shot you feel your stress levels rising and your confidence falling.
As if that isn’t bad enough the harder you try the worse it gets. You find your jaw tightening, your neck and shoulders tensing and the first suggestion of a headache coming on. Your swing goes more off line and you begin to really dislike playing golf. Your brain goes into overdrive as you try to analyse yourself and you dread the remaining holes.
What’s going on and why is it happening? Why is confidence so elusive?
We very easily slip into patterns of behaviour that are difficult to get out of. It usually comes back to us not being clear in what we want and if something goes wrong we become stressed which muddles us even more. Ideally we should feel calm, perfectly aroused with the mechanisms in place to cope with all eventualities immediately... if only!
Spend a little time thinking about your confidence. Remember the last time you felt really good ~ what was happening?
Now think about when your confidence wanders off:
How do you know ~ what happens to your game, thoughts and feelings
What about your inner commentary, your self-talk
Does your confidence come and go or does it suddenly appear or slowly disappear
Do you get cross with yourself
What would be your ideal:
What would you experience if your game went exactly as you wanted it
How do you know when all is well
What would you feel
Notice your self-talk
The more questions you ask yourself the clearer the answers and then the solutions can become.
When you know exactly what you want to happen your subconscious mind can be given clear precise instructions.
But what to do if your confidence isn’t present after you have started to play and your stress is? You need to be able to quickly ascertain what is happening but not use up time or get more stressed doing so.
First mentally scan your body for the places that are affected by stress. Imagine soothing the stress away by using mental massage and breathing into the stressed area. Bathe your mind in a soothing colour. Imagine gathering all the unwanted stress in your body and directing it towards your hands and at the same time shaking it away. Let it flow away as you shake. If you find this hard to do imagine all that stress being converted into useful energy ~ maybe in the form of power on your drives or precision on your putting.
Now for the confidence. If you have ever played in the way you want your subconscious can replicate it as long as the instructions for your goal are clear and can be understood. Often our self-talk and inner instructions are too woolly and we make the situation worse as we become muddled with stress. We then become more negative and begin to doubt our abilities. More stress ~ less confidence ~ more muddled ~ less self-belief etc. etc.
If a shot doesn’t go as you would have liked, (no failure only learning or areas to improve!), quickly re-play it in your mind but with a different ending to it. Whilst you do this feel the good feelings as if it had been a great shot with a superb result. And keep reminding yourself how brilliant you are. Then let the negative thoughts, feelings and memories go and quickly move on with very clear mental instruction of precisely what you want.
Another method you might try is people watching. Notice what others do if they start off a little rough. We can all think of professionals who seem to be able to recover from anything, because they keep the belief that they can.
Try a quick mind exercise now to boost confidence and release stress. Focus your eyes on a spot somewhere in front of you and allow everything around it to become a little hazy. Imagine all unwanted stress is flowing down your body from the top of your head out through your feet and gently develop the feeling of sinking down while you begin to regulate your breathing. Imagine you are watching a film of yourself doing something when you felt on top of the world. See in your mind how you looked. Feel in your body how you felt. Hear what you heard inside yourself. Now think of an action; touch your leg or click your fingers, say or think a particular word to yourself or do whatever feels comfortable, at the same time hold the good image in your mind.
Let your thoughts wander and think of something completely different. After a few moments carry out your chosen action. If it doesn’t instantly switch on all that was good repeat the exercise. You may have to do it a few times to programme in the trigger but when it is there it will stay.
If you need a confidence boost when you play use your trigger and it will flood back.
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