You’re not born with confidence – it’s something you have to practise. Mental golf expert Gary Leboff teaches you how to trust your inner self and achieve lasting results
How To Build Confidence In Golf
Golfers have a fragile relationship with confidence.
Absolute belief in their game is swiftly shredded by a couple of bad swings.
Throw in a missed three-footer and confidence is transformed into complete doom and gloom.
A great deal of nonsense is talked about confidence.
Most sportsmen and women have no idea what it is, how to get it or even how to hold on to what they already have.
The desperate need for confidence has given rise to widespread ignorance and misunderstanding.
So what is confidence? Fundamentally, confidence is a relationship of trust between you and you.
One of the great myths about confidence is that you are either born with it or you are not.
I cannot overstate the damage created by such a facile misconception.
No wonder so many golfers lacking confidence fall into despair.
Such people may even be highly accomplished in other areas of life.
Despite their achievements in business, finance or other areas, golfers facing a challenge on the course will often think about similar situations in which they’ve failed.
When I ask if such an approach would work in any other walk of life, clients smile at their own stupidity.
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Confidence on the golf course boils down to this – trust or doubt?
There is no middle ground – you cannot trust yourself 99%. Faced with a tough shot, golfers either trust or doubt their own ability.
Confidence is a muscle and it has to be worked.
Confident people practise trusting themselves, especially under pressure.
Anxious golfers become so used to doubting their ability, they don’t even notice it happening.
How golfers look back on their rounds can also be devastating to self-confidence.
Human beings are hard wired to repeat what we see in our minds.
The images we replay in our heads send a message to our nervous system – ‘more please’.
Instead of focusing on highlights, golfers tend to wallow in heartache – drives in the bushes, putts that lipped out etc.
One of the key things I teach golfers is how to go back through their round, select the best tee shot/iron/pitch/chip/putt and replay successes.
Bad shots are simply ignored. And what does confidence do?
The purpose of confidence is not, as many believe, to control the outcome.
The purpose of confidence is to give yourself the best chance of success.
No actual proof is needed. After all, if confidence could only be generated by results, no one would ever be a first-time winner.
If you wait for results to believe in yourself, you may wait a very long time.
Confidence Demands Action
High achievers in general experience the same reversals, setbacks and disappointments as anyone else – but they refuse to relinquish their underlying self-belief.
Confidence comes first.
Confidence is not just a state of mind. Confidence demands action.
Watch Rory McIlroy the next time he’s playing badly.
While Rory’s instant response to a bad shot may be to thump the ground in frustration, what he does not do is far more instructive.
How many golfers struggling for form let their heads drop and spirits plummet? This is no coincidence.
Sports psychologists know it is far easier to become negative when your head is down.
Lowering the head provides space for ‘internal dialogue’, the voices that say you are useless, worthless.
Retaining an upright posture and keeping your eyeline at flagstick level silences these voices almost immediately.
Confidence is NOT mysterious, fickle or elusive.
Confidence is a SKILL to be learned.
And like any other skill in golf or in life, practice is essential.
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Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered three Open Championships on-site including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats between 3-5. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Honma TR20
3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max
Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max
Irons: Mizuno MP5
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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