” Confidence is playing with your eyes”, says sport psychologist Bob Rotella. “I hear this from athletes in all sports with targets. Think of the shooter on a roll in basketball. She just looks at the basket and lets it go. Think of a great pitcher when he’s sharp. He looks at the catcher’s mitt and throws it in there. Think of the the trap shooter. He squints at the clay disc and squeezes the trigger. The eye of the confident athlete zeroes in on the objective. The brain and the rest of the body simply react. The basketball player doesn’t give herself a lecture on the mechanics of pushing a ball through the air. The pitcher doesn’t mentally rehears the motions of shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist, and finger that produce a slider. The trap shooter needn’t ponder how to coordinate the movements of his torso and his trigger finger. Confident athletes let their brains and nervous systems perform the skills they have rehearsed and mastered — without interference from the conscious mind.” (Rotella, p. 9-10)
Confidence will certainly help us to play our best. How, then do I find, develop and activate my confidence?? The first step is to understand what confidence is and especially what your confidence is. It will take some soul searching and a little bit of work to identify our state of self-confidence. Start with some questions. Ask yourself things like, “What are my strengths in my game?, Can I make a list of my strong points – the things that I feel good about? Can I make a list of the things that I don’t feel good about in my game? What is my thinking about these strengths and weaknesses? In other words, what powers my confidence?
All my accomplishments give me a sense of confidence when I think about them! Do I have to wait to accomplish things and have successes in order to build my confidence?? Am I just sitting around going through the motions moving from a negative thought to a positive one with my confidence going up and down like a ball bouncing on the sidewalk. It seems like I will play well at times, but with just one poor move or bad shot, my game goes downhill and I feel this overwhelming sense of weakness or just plain lack of confidence. This affects my game and causes inconsistent play. I go from confident, solid play to a game filled with doubt. Many times this doubt continues to build and my game becomes terrible.
I need to activate my confidence. This means to think powerfully with strong, positive thoughts and a clear focus. As Dr. Rotella says in the opening line – I need to play with my eyes. Start now and learn to play with your eyes, throwing doubt out. Try the phrase, “NO DOUBT”, use this as cue or key to promote confidence in your performance – print it on your hat or your shirt. Sit down and reflect on what “NO DOUBT” means and tie it to a clear, highly confident state of mind. Every time you say to yourself, “NO DOUBT”, you will activate your confidence. Let me know how this works for you.
♦ Rotella, Bob. Golf is a game of Confidence. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.