Most players aspire for improved results and often are willing to work hard to achieve better scores. But working hard often does not bring improved results. It can seem unfair, but spending lots of time in the kitchen does not guarantee you will be an excellent chef.
Confidence is one of the critical ingredients needed to drive improved results. The mistake many players make (I certainly did when I was a young player), is that they leave building confidence to chance. I believe every player should be PRO-ACTIVE with defined systems and strategies in place to build this critical skill. So the next question is, how do you develop confidence?
There are a number of strategies (I outline 10 in our workbook Building Belief and Confidence), but one critical one is having success – the old adage of ‘success breeds success’ Well that’s all well and good but how does one have success in the first place – it’s a bit like the chicken and the egg?
One strategy I use with some players is to ask them on a monthly basis to outline a ‘win, draw, lose’ framework for 9 hole segments that they play both in practice and tournaments. So for instance, a 2 h’cap player may choose:
WIN: 36 or better (level par or better)
Then let's say in September the player plays 10 rounds (20 x 9 holes). Their chart may look like thus:
5 Wins (25%) - 8 Draws (40%) - 7 Losses (35%)
Then the objective for October is to simply improve your percentages, however marginal. The best way to develop confidence is through factual evidence – you cannot dupe the sub-conscious mind – and then even with just a small incremental improvement (e.g. 26% or better wins in this example) then you will be on your way to building confidence.
The beauty of this system is that it is encouraging players to go out with a mindset of ‘Playing to Play Great’ (shoot as many under par as possible in this example – remember a ‘WIN’ is level or better), but at the same time still giving them something to aim for even with a bad start, some bad holes etc ( looking to save at least a ‘DRAW’). It also means they start to focus on their own game and their own improvement, and not constantly compare themselves to other players or where they ‘should’ or ‘need’ to be.
Another way players can apply this system is to identify ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ results. For instance, a European Tour Player I worked with was experiencing a long term slump. We were at a tournament, and I asked him what success would look like this week for him. He said a top 10 finish. I then asked how many top 10s he had achieved in the last 3 years. He thought a moment, and then said 4 (and he had played about 100 tournaments). I then asked him to give me a score out of 10 for his current confidence and he said 3. I said no wonder, if you are failing 96% of the time how do you expect to build confidence? We then developed a strategy to say that an ‘A’ result was a top 10, a ‘B’ result a top 25 and a ‘C’ result a top 50. That means even if he’s struggling that week, he still could attain a ‘C’ result. Well this player went on a run making 29/31 cuts 12 months later, after a previous season of less than 40% of cuts made, and the cherry on the cake was a first tournament win for 7 years.
This strategy is something every player can employ whether they are a club player or an elite player. Don’t aim too high – small steps of progress is the key – but look to GUARANTEE the small step and if more comes great!
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