Overcoming Self-Doubt With Mental Toughness
“I can’t hit my tee shots…”
“I have no confidence in my ability…”
“I’m going to fail…”
Have you ever had these thoughts during a round of golf?
You probably answered, “Yes!”
You may also feel you are the only one who is troubled with these thoughts.
The battle in the mind is the toughest battle in golf: doubt vs. confidence, frustration vs. composure, giving up vs. grinding out the round.
The battle in the mind does not discriminate; it affects every golfer that has played the game.
To illustrate this point, look no further than Jason Day at the 2018 Wells Fargo tournament…
Day did not have his “A-Game” on the final day of the tournament.
Day missed more than half the fairways, hooked the ball into the water on the 14th hole, hit just eight greens in regulation, made four bogeys during the final round and squandered a three-shot lead on the back nine.
Although Day won, he battled his own thinking, especially after his disastrous shot on the 14th hole.
DAY: “When I hooked the ball in the water on 14, I was sitting there and I started getting a little bit negative on myself with regards to what I tried to do.”
Day battled self-doubt throughout the final round, no different than what you have experienced while golfing.
DAY: “Out there I was so uncomfortable… I was kind of battling demons there inside my head because you just — the subconscious takes over when you’re not hitting it that great and you don’t know where the ball’s going, have no confidence really in my ability to hit proper tee shots, I was just trying to keep it inside the treeline. Your subconscious takes over, you’re saying you can’t do it, you can’t do it, and you’re going to fail, you’re going to fail. You somehow have to just get rid of those thoughts and just push forward. The character moments where you just kind of build and you get stronger from.”
Day kept battling, continued to grind and birdied two of his final three holes to take home the Wells Fargo Championship.
The questions you may have are:
“How do I win the battle in my mind? How can I continue to grind when my shots are landing all over the place?”
Winning the battle of the mind is a matter of stable confidence, focus, patience, and composure!
Rather than giving into your doubts, think of what is going right. Instead of ruminating about your bad shots, pay attention to what you need to do NOW!
The battle of the mind is tugging you into two different directions. The thoughts you focus on, whether they be positive or negative, will determine which side wins.
Focus on the negative, self-doubt will consume you.
Focus on the positive or even neutral thoughts of what you need to do for the current shot, confidence will win out.
In fact, Day attributed his win over self-doubt and his win at Wells Fargo to focusing on what was working, his short game.
DAY: “I didn’t have the greatest day off the tee, and even into the greens, but I had a really good day on the greens and around the greens. So short game saved me the whole day today and it was key.”
Remember, golf is a game of focus and composure. Learn to win the battle in your mind and you win at golf.
Tip for Winning the Battle in the Mind:
First, you need to recognize when your mind is distracted, doubting, dwelling on the past, or thinking too far ahead.
When you notice doubts or negative thoughts, say to yourself, “SWITCH.”
Cue yourself to refocus your mind on a positive intention, such as continue to see good shot or putt in your mind during your routine.
Use your pre-shot routine to help you focus on what you WANT TO DO.
Don’t let self-doubt be the ruler of your mind…
Take back control of your thoughts by choosing to have a positive intention for every shot.
Learn Proven Strategies to Perform with Confidence!
Do you suffer from fragile self-confidence after missed hits, playing with strict or high expectations that undermine confidence or the inability to play freely and relaxed on the course?
If you suffer from lack of focus, low self-confidence or other mental game obstacles on the course, you cant reach your true golf potential…
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“I am so grateful for your insights and experience. My focus is sharp and I feel relaxed but ready to meet whatever challenge comes up. If I make a mistake, I am able to let it go and move on immediately. You have really helped me to get back on track and get things going again.”i
~Suzanne Strudwick, LPGA Tour
“I am a PGA Professional and when I connected with you, I just wanted some ideas to help my students. But thanks to you, my own game has improved! I think I will shoot 69; negative thoughts have vanished; and my self-talk and confidence has improved tremendously. I will be referring my students to your web site.”
~Bill Allen, PGA Pro
“Last weekend Lisa played in a Florida Junior Golf Association tournament in Gainesville. She played great and won (74-70=144) over 43 other competitors! She’s starting to really believe in herself and her stats are improving each tournament. She is thinking better and making much smarter decisions on the course. Thanks again for your help Dr. Cohn.”
~Scott Tyler, Father of Lisa Tyler
“Hank has consistently improved over the summer. He is getting stronger and more confident. He often talks about the mental game techniques that you have shared with him for his success. We visited my home in Wisconsin last week and he shot a 69 on my old home course which is a one-under round. Thanks for your help.”
~Billy Dettlaff, Hank’s Father