Confidence can be defined as the feeling that you are able to accomplish the task at hand. How many times have you heard yourself or playing partners say that their confidence comes and
goes and is out of their control?
These golfers have stretches of golf where confidence is high and the game seems easy, while the same golfers have stretches where confidence is low and the game seems impossible. These
drastic changes lead these golfers to believe that confidence is intangible and out of our control. But it is something that is very much in our control. Confidence can be built through preparation
and experience. So how can we build confidence thru our practice and be able to take it to the golf course?
Step one is by learning the correct technique, good technique is essential if you are going to play golf with confidence consistently, so your practice is something that must be attended to in every practice session. However, when you practice your technique evaluate your success or failure by whether you achieve the feeling/move/position in your swing that you are trying to achieve and not by where the golf ball goes.
Step two is practicing a specific skill that we will be faced with on the golf course. Once we have done work on our technique we need to practice a specific shot of the same type and trajectory.
An example would be to hit a fade with a 7 iron. Hit a bucket of balls while only working on hitting fades with a 7 iron. After skill practice we will already feel more confident with that shot on the golf course.
Step three is to test this skill under pressure, so how can we create pressure in a practice situation? An effective way to create pressure is to "3 in a row test" you will attempt to hit three 7
irons that fade the same amount in a row. The first two shots may seem easy but the third one is going to be closer to the pressure we feel out on the golf course. Once we have completed the "3 in a row test" our confidence will again increase with this specific skill.
The final step is to take this skill to the golf course with the confidence that you know it will work based on the success of correct practice. Competing with confidence is the final hurdle to becoming a confident golfer.
Head Golf Professional, The Winston Golf Club
BA Psychology/Sociology University of Calgary