Building a Champions Mental Game: Confidence
“Confidence comes from preparation” – Kobe Bryant
It is the 1st tee box. The sky is grey, and the wind is blowing hard. The air is chilly which is normal for the time of year. It is the day of the High School Sectional Tournament. The top competitors and teams will advance to the State Finals. This is a moment that Kevin has been thinking about for a long time. Kevin missed qualifying for the State Finals by 1 shot the year before. His mind is racing. “I hope I do well”. He keeps thinking about this over and over.
It is 9:54 and Kevin’s name has been called. He walks up to the tee. Between the wind and nerves, it took a minute to get the ball securely on the tee. After Kevin came back upright he gazed out to the playing field. The first hole has out of bounds to the right of the hole. His eyes drift toward the damning white stakes. The wind is blowing hard to the right. All Kevin can think about is the fade he has been trying to fix. He tries to follow his routine and does a few practice swings. He walks up to the ball. He looks back to the target, but his eyes keep drifting toward the right. He swings the club. He hears the crack of the face. He looks up in anticipation to see the ball drifting toward the right. He is yelling at the ball “GET DOWN”!! The ball hits the ground and rolls across the white stakes. Out of Bounds.
Kevin’s heart drops and a rush of anxiety comes across him. He must hit again. He grabs another ball. Tees it up and tries to gather himself. All he can think about is that he is already in trouble and the round hasn’t even started. He gets ready for the next shot. He swings and in every attempt to stay away from Out of Bounds, he makes contact. The ball hits way off the center of the face and flies weak left. Kevin grabs his bag and walks toward the next shot. He is walking down the fairway with his head down. He cannot stop thinking about the start of this. “I am blowing this”. The walk to the ball feels like forever. He feels overwhelmed thinking about what happened.
It is Kevin’s turn to play his 4th shot. He is 183 yards away in the rough. There is a tree in the way. He is looking at the hole and thinking about how to be safe. He swings and hits a shot out from the trees and leaves himself 107 yards. It feels as if nothing will go right today. He plays his approach shot. Kevin is an amazing wedge player. He thinks to himself “get on the green”. He swings and the ball flies short. He must chip. After some more scramble he makes the putt to finish the hole with an 8. Kevin has started at 4 over par which was the cut off for the state final qualifiers last year.
Leading up to the event, Kevin played well. He played in many events and saw them as practice events for the “big day”.
Kevin decided he was going to ramp up his practice leading up to sectionals. He hit balls for an extra 1.5 hours per day. In his practice, he spent a great deal of time working on his mechanics. He did drill after drill to perfect the swing plane. Kevin was amped up. He would get upset after a miss hit shot in practice. He started to think more about how to perfect the swing. He ended up spending 95% of his practice on his swing. He thought, if I work hard on my swing, I should hit it well.
Kevin’s longtime friend and teammate, Jason, saw him at practice and walked over. “You are really working hard. What are you working on?” Kevin told him that he is hitting the ball poorly and is trying to eliminate the misses. “Dude, you have been hitting the ball great, what is the problem?” Kevin: “I don’t know, right now I feel as if my swing is not repeatable”. Jason wished him luck and let him be.
The round continues, and each shot requires more thought. Kevin is now remembering a tip he saw in Golf Digest and tries that. He is desperate to find a swing thought that works. Everything is falling apart, and his confidence is at an all-time low….
Most people reading this have felt this at some point. What we must understand is Kevin broke down WAY BEFORE the day of the event.
Why did the confidence break down?
Kevin CREATED problems in his practice.
Kevin convinced himself his swing was bad by reinforcing bad shots.
Kevin constantly told himself his swing was off.
Kevin spent all his practice in Training for Technique
A Must for Great Training
The Champion Ways Training Model
Training the Technique
Training the Skill
Training the Mind
What You Can Learn from Kevin
Have a great training plan and stick to it.
Reinforce what you want to do. Know your keys and stick to it no matter what - Build your greatness every day.
Always discuss what you do well, never what is wrong.
A bigger tournament should never change your plan.
Confidence comes from knowing what you need to do. You should be able to state how you are going to play and the important factors. You then must have a daily training regimen to reflect this.