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September 23 2013

11:00 AM

Mental Game: Stenson's confidence

Greenwood/Getty Images
Henrik Stenson focused on the positive at East Lake when his big lead was cut.

By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

You would think a great player like Henrik Stenson does not need to work on his confidence. However, Henrik stated that after his poor play coming home on Sunday at East Lake in the rain, his confidence was a bit shaken. Even on Sunday, Stenson said his confidence was not roaring, yet he managed to win the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola and the FedExCup. Congrats!

Stenson was illustrating that keeping your confidence day to day is difficult even for the best players in the world. The same holds true for any level of amateur.

While confidence is an essential ingredient for playing good golf, it is as fickle as an 8-year-old boy in a candy store. One moment he wants to try the sweet Gummy Bears and the next he will gobble up the sour chews. Good shots on the golf course can create that sweet air of invincibility. A couple of bad shots can sour your attitude and perception of golf ability.

Psychologists have discovered that remembering former actions on the course can help to build and keep your confidence. Interestingly, Stenson used this method to win this weekend. He recalled a time when he had a 3-shot lead in the final round last year on the European Tour. He had some tight moments during the round, but he went on to win that event. He used that positive experience to boost his confidence in knowing he could win again in a tight situation.

Here are some recommendations to help keep your confidence when your play has gone south for a few holes:

1. Get a best-shots book. In this book, write down some of your best shots, the ones you really nailed. Write down when you hit them and how you felt. Put this in your golf bag and look at it once a round to keep your confidence roaring.

2. Make a best swing video. Have a video of your best swings and look at it every week. This will keep positive visualizations of your game very fresh in your mind.

3. Choose to be confident. Regardless of how you are playing, you can always choose to be confident. This is very difficult, but with practice you can choose to be confident regardless of how you are playing.

Let’s be honest, keeping your confidence is very difficult when your game stinks. It takes hard work to keep your confidence every day. These suggestions will put you on the right track so that when your confidence train goes in the wrong direction, you will be able to guide it back in the right direction.

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf. He is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. Dr. Gregg is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players.  You can see more about him at www.drgreggsteinberg.com, and you can e-mail him at mentalrules24@msn.com for any comments or questions about your mental game.

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