Focusing on controllable factors to improve golfers’ confidence
One of the frequent tools of sports psychologists to help improve confidence in golfers is to guide them focusing on controllable factors. All things happen around golfers in a tournament can be divided into two sub-categories: controllables and non-controllables factors. Many times, golfers tend to focus on the things that are beyond their control, such as winning or making the cut. When you play a match play against someone else, you may play your very best game yet you don’t win because the other person is having higher skill than you or they have their best day too. On other day, you may have a terrible game but still make the cut because all other golfers are struggling with bad weather too. Hence, worrying about the outcome of their performance may affect golfers’ confidence negatively.
Several of the non-controllable factors are listed below:
Non- Controllable factors in golf
Weather (windy, raining, hot, cold)
Condition on the golf course (green fast or slow)
The performance of other golfers
Making the cut or not
Winning or losing the event
Crowd and their behaviours
On the other hand, champions in any sports know that they can only control what is within their ability. In order to have a good shot, golfers need to focus on things that they can manage and directly affect the shot. Before the shots, golfers should practise emotional control to deal with self-doubt, or anxiety thoughts that may arise. When arriving at the tee, golfers should shift attention to their pre-shot routine, visualize the shot and execute that shot without additional thoughts about the outcome of the shot. By being able to focus the thought in the moment, golfers commit their mind and body to the shot which gives it the best chance to land where golfers want it to be. This way, if the shot is not landing where it is expected, golfers know they have done everything they can to give the best possible shot. Thus, they are more likely able to forgive their mistakes and move on to the next shot. In order to win, golfers need to remember WIN stands for: What is Important Now.
Paying full attention to what is important now leads to the win or make cut, and not the other way around.
Controllable factors in golf
Emotional control (Dealing with self-doubt, nervousness, pressure)
Thought focus in the moment and not future.
Having realistic expectation with a plan to cope with the unexpected.
Able to let go of mistakes and move on to the next hole quickly.
This simple technique can be applied to any sports, not just golf. I highly recommend athletes of any sport create a 2-column-table to list out the controllable and non-controllable factors in their sports.
By focusing only on controllable factors, it will boost athletes’ confident and the sense of control during game or practice.