At the 2009 3M Championship, two-time Masters champion, Bernhard Langer, eagled his last hole to win the tournament. Remember that? He was standing at the edge of the green when he chipped the ball right into the hole for a distance of about 10 feet. (It was the first eagle to win a tournament in 3 years.) But this shot is more amazing than that… Because Langer knew he was going to eagle – even before he took his shot! After the shot, he mentioned, “Before I played that shot, I told my son, ‘I’m going to make this’.” And he did. But how? How can you KNOW that you’re going to make the shot before you even strike the ball?
It’s the same way that Babe Ruth knew he would hit a home run in the 1932 World Series, when he hit his famous “called-shot” to center field. It’s confidence. If you’re confident that you can – then you will. Telling your son that you’re going to eagle the next shot is pure confidence. You see, the reason that confidence is so crucial when it comes to sports, especially golf, is because it means you have a powerful mental game. And your mental golf game will soar when you’re confident. I found a great article, written by Andrea Furst for the Ladies European Tour, about developing your self-confidence. Check it out here:
How many times have you said or heard other players say, “I bogeyed the fifth and then I lost my confidence”, or “My confidence is gone”, or “I have to get my confidence back in my swing”?
Self-confidence is talked about like it is a fragile and hypersensitive characteristic that declines and disappears on a whim.
This conceptualization of self-confidence makes self-confidence very vague and intangible. It does not have to be that way!
It is beneficial to know where you derive your self-confidence, in a similar way to knowing your strengths. Knowledge of your sources of self-confidence will enable you to have a more complete understanding of what works for you and your game.
Do you know what your sources of self-confidence are?
To assist you in developing a thorough knowledge of your sources, it is valuable to review Vealey’s (2001) nine sources of self-confidence in sport.
1. Sources of Achievement
(1) Mastery: Developing and improving skills.
Mental Note: Include drills and activities in your practice schedule that allow your progress to be identified and accomplishments to be acknowledged. Monitor your progress to optimize the benefits of your practice.
(2) Demonstration of Ability: Showing ability by winning and outperforming opponents.
Mental Note: Include competitive opportunities in your practice to lift your ability to compete in competition. Take every opportunity to be competitive and when you do win, it is solid evidence that you have what it takes to win again.
(3) Physical and Mental Preparation: Staying focused on goals and being prepared to give maximum effort.
Mental Note: Work on both your physical and mental skills to ensure optimum resources to meet the demands of competition. Make preparation high on your priority list to maximize readiness for the competitive environment.
(4) Physical Self-Presentation: Feeling good about your body and weight.
Mental Note: Ensure that you emphasise your physical appearance and health in your training so that you can maximize positive body language. Have a strong physical presence.
3. Social Climate
(5) Social Support: Getting encouragement from teammates, coaches, and family.
Mental Note: Have people in your support system that sincerely support your golf career. Keep in regular contact with these supportive people.
(6) Coaches’ Leadership: Trusting coaches’ decisions and believing in their abilities.
Mental Note: Develop an effective working relationship with your coach so that you get what you need and want.
(7) Vicarious Experience: Seeing other athletes performing successfully.
Mental Note: Watch other golfers or other athletes who are doing a ‘good job’; note how they are ‘doing it’. Feed off and learn from their successful performances.
(8) Environmental Comfort: Feeling comfortable in the environment where you will perform.
Mental Note: Set up your practice and competitive environment to ensure you have what you need to perform. Eliminate short cuts and excuses.
(9) Situational Favorableness: Seeing breaks going your way and feeling that everything is going right.
Sports isn’t just about physical performance. It’s also (and mainly) about your mental performance. It’s like golf legend Bobby Jones is oft quoted as saying: “Golf is a game that is played on a 5 inch course – the distance between your ears”. Your mental game lets you utilize your physical skills in a way that allows you to play your best game – consistently. The pros know this. They know that the only way to skyrocket their golf game and to break through their competition – is to work their mental game and play at peak level.
The story of old-time golf pro Gene Sarazen comes to mind… At the 1923 PGA Championship, Gene was tied with Walter Hagen in sudden death and was facing a tricky lie. He turned to the gallery and announced: “I’ll put this one so close to the hole it’ll break Walter’s heart.” He then put the ball 2 feet from the hole and went on to win the tournament. How confident do you think he was? You can only perform like that if you’ve mastered your mental game. And your mental golf game will soar when you’re confident. That’s what makes good golfers into great golfers. Do you have any confidence tips to share? Let me hear what you have to say on confidence in the comments section.