Mental Skills to Improve Trust in Golf
“You need to have trust in your game.” How often have you heard that line from a coach or professional golfer?
What is meant by having “trust” in your game?
Trust is the ability to suspend your judgment about your swing or performance.
Instead of analyzing what you are doing or thinking about your swing, trust is a matter of just playing your shot.
The time and place for analyzing, thinking, and revising your swing are during practice. During competitive rounds, thinking interferes with optimizing each stroke.
The big question is not what trust is but how to gain trust in your swing.
In our Mental Game of Golf Survey, we received the following question from a collegiate golfer:
“I am a talented golfer who practices nearly every day, and I hit very well during practice. How can I take that swing to the course and build trust in it?”
The problem is you spend hours and hours every week thinking about your swing in practice, and then somehow, you have to find a way to shut down the analytical part of your brain when competing.
Instead of the mindset of “not thinking” about mechanics, you can shut down your analytical brain by focusing on something other than your swing. You can only focus on one thought at a time. When you focus on a strategy for your shot, your preshot routine, or a target area, you will be mentally engaged rather than dwelling on swing thoughts.
The goal is to work on your swing in practice to habituate your mechanics. In practice, trust is developed, such as trust in your physical abilities, technical skills or mechanics, mental skills, and ability to develop the skills necessary to achieve your goals.
Forty-three-year-old Bubba Watson made history by matching the lowest 18-hole score in PGA Championship history. Watson, whose previous low score was 68, shot 63 at the 2022 PGA Championship. Watson’s stat sheet has not been very impressive in previous PGA Championships. It is past 11 starts, Watson has missed four cuts, and his best finish was T-21.
After shooting 63, Watson talked about the role of trust in his recording tying round.
WATSON: “Forget the golf course. It’s about trusting yourself. If you don’t trust yourself out there, it doesn’t matter if you have the perfect yardage, the perfect club. It doesn’t matter. … So yeah, today was just—I trusted it. I was focused. I was focused on what I had to do, and it worked out.”
As Watson stated, trust is a matter of focus, mainly staying focused in the moment.
Tip for Building Trust in your Swing:
Of course, you want to hone your mechanics, but it is also essential to work on trust during practice.
Set time aside during practice to build trust in your swing. Whether it’s 15 minutes at the end of practice or your last three holes, swing the club freely by focusing on something other than mechanics and outcomes.
Related Golf Psychology Articles
- How to Deal With Negative Emotion
- How to Improve Your Mental Game
- Mindset for Golf Performance Evaluation
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