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The Tour Report

June 24 2013

10:54 AM

Mental Game: Confidence building

Ken Duke's hard work helped result in his first PGA TOUR victory. (Wickerham/Getty Images)

By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

Since turning profession in 1994, Ken Duke has had his struggles and misfortunes on and off the course. For a golfer, back problems like scoliosis can derail a career and create doubt in your future as a touring professional. But Duke will be the first to tell you that a belief in yourself is built with hard work and patience. All his hard work paid off with his first PGA TOUR victory at the Travelers Championship.

When I work with players, I usually get the question, “How do I build more confidence in my game?” The best answer is to follow the lead of Duke: with hard work and lots of practice.

Sports psychology researchers have discovered that a cornerstone to your confidence is preparation. Of course, preparation can come in many shades and colors, such as having a prepared game plan, and knowing the course very well.

But your confidence will also be built when you know you have put the time and effort on the range and putting green. Just flip that for a minute and ask yourself how nervous you were before a tournament when you did not have time to practice your game. Preparation helps to alleviate the nerves.

You will gain a leap in confidence by practicing your game.  As Ben Hogan said, "The secret is in the dirt". I would extend that a bit further to add that your confidence is built in the dirt. So go practice!!!

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the TOUR” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players as well as top collegiate and junior golfer.  Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at drgreggsteinberg.com.