Building a Champion's Mental Game: Self Talk
A story of self talk and how to change performance.
Two players step onto the 10th tee box. Both players played well on the front 9 and are in competition to win. Player A steps up and pounds a drive down the fairway. When the clubface made contact with the ball, she knew it was perfect. She picked up the tee with the ball still in the air and holstered her driver with a smile.
Player B pegs her ball in the ground and starts practice swinging. There is more of an intense look on her face. She looks deeper in thought. She takes a few more seconds in her routine than normal then swings. She hits a high fade into the rough on the right hand side. She shows disgust on her face and slams the club in her bag and says "here I go again".
Player B is first to play the approach shot. She pulls her club out and starts to practice swing. The practice swings become almost like a drill. Very pieced together and choppy. Again, the process takes a few seconds longer than her normal and she swings. This shot is very thin and short. Now it's Player A's turn. She grabs her club and takes 2 very fluid practice swing. She stands tall, walks in with a confident look. She takes one look at the target, eyes come back to the ball and she fires. The swing looks fluid and balanced. You can hear the sound of the strike from the next hole. This ball flies straight and true and lands 15 feet from the pin. She again holsters her club, says "that's how I hit it under pressure".
Player B is now hitting a wedge trying to make up for the 2 mistakes. She can not get out of her head the shots that she hit. She says "I can't believe I am blowing this". She focuses hard and swings a wedge trying to go over a bunker and it buries in the lip. She slams her club and is now walking with her head down and keeps saying "I always do this".
The hole finishes and Player A had a easy tap in par. Player B after more struggle had a double bogey.
We are on the next tee. Player A goes through the same process, walks in confident, and drills the best drive of the day down the fairway. Player B gets on the tee. She now looks tense and frustrated. After another awkward process the ball snap hooks and she screams "WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY SWING??'
This match concludes and Player A wins by a great margin. Player B storms off the course and goes to the range to work on her swing.
This scenario happens every single day. The most important thing to understand is it is a reflection of practice. Most players practice a bad mental game. Here is why.
Notice how Player A was always confirming to herself that she is great in the moment. This is a belief for this player because she practices this way. She always reinforces what she does well and after many great practices, she is super confident.
Now Player B is another story and how most golfers handle themselves. She practices by always asking “what's wrong?” After a shot she will say “that is so bad” and when she hits a good one there is no reaction. This is why the performance broke down. It has nothing to do with the day of the event. It leads back to how players train.
Building a champions mental game starts with self talk. What you are saying to yourself out loud and in your head. As humans, we have millions of thoughts a day. We need to learn to control those thoughts and direct them into a fashion that will make you stronger. I use the word
reinforcement over and over. The more you think about, write about, and talk about something the more likely to come true. The more you say it, the more you believe it.
Player A in the story practices her process and practices positive self talk every day. Player B practices and always asks "Whats wrong".
Player A does daily swing maintenance and knows the solution if there is a problem
Player B works on something new every day and never knows what swing thought to use.
Player A reinforces her practice in a journal
Player B always talks about what she does wrong.
So what can you take away from this?
1. Talk about what you need to do in the swing and not the problem
2. After a shot, discuss great ones and not the bad ones
3. Reinforce your practice every day with what you did great
4. Change the way you talk to yourself, "That's how I play!, That's how I hit it, etc."
5. You WILL..... Not try or hope
If this seems simple its because it is. This is powerful stuff that will change your confidence and performance for the best!
Be A Champion Today!