It’s often said that the best athletes have long memories of their successes and short memories of their failures. Your game will improve if you focus more on the successes and pay less attention to the errors. Take the time to appreciate a well-played shot as it flies toward your target and lands in the area you intended. This will imprint a positive image in your mind and help to build your confidence.
You can also reinforce the positive experience with your words. Too often when someone compliments one of our shots, we downplay our skill and say it was luck, replying with something like, “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.” Although you get points for humility, comparing yourself to a blind squirrel isn’t going to build your confidence.
You can make a different type of comment that will be more beneficial to your game. When you hit a shot that comes out just the way you wanted, go ahead and take credit for both the planning and execution. Reinforce your visualization skills by saying, “Thanks. That’s just the way I pictured it.” One of my favorite self-compliments for building confidence in your ability is: “That’s how I always hit it when I trust my swing.”
After your round, stick to the positive by skipping the replays of what went wrong and the mistakes you made. Instead, take the time to review the good decisions and the good shots you played. Do this often enough and the good ones will be all that you remember.
If you are a beginner or high handicapper, use my special scoring system: “Just Count the Good Ones.” Give yourself a point for each shot you liked, and simply make it your intention to get as many points as you can each time you play. I’ve also taught this to low handicappers, including tour pros, who can get too preoccupied with score. It shifts their attention from the scorecard to focus only on the quality of the shots they are playing. And when golfers of any level play more high-quality shots, their scores are bound to be lower.
So “just count the good ones” and you’ll not only enjoy the game more, you’ll play better.
— Dr. Joe Parent, author of ZEN GOLF: Mastering the Mental Game and a PGA TOUR/LPGA Instructor. Learn more at drjoeparent.com