By Michael Balderstone TGSE & BSI Performance Director
This week, while watching some of my students competing and discussing performance afterwards, I heard the following statements;
“I just can’t play under pressure”
“I can’t hole a putt”
“Your pace is useless” (self-talk after a putt)
“You’re an idiot” (more self-talk)
All the above were from different players and these kinds of statements are heard or thoughts on golf courses every day.
The words we use are powerful, and no one is more affected by our own words, verbalised or internal, than ourselves. Our words and thoughts, the language we use, contribute to the energy we put out there and that is reflected in the energy that we feel ourselves.
The more we tell ourselves that we can’t do something, or we’re useless or stupid for not executing a task, the more we believe it and that belief becomes a ‘truth’ that we take ownership off. That ‘truth’ then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that continues to spiral out of proportion to the original performance.
Mentally strong athletes understand the power of self-talk and use it to build belief and energy around what they want to achieve. Mohammed Ali, Gary Player and Conor McGregor are great examples of this. When I interviewed Gary Player a while ago, he told me that he got himself into a sort of hypnotic trance before tournament rounds by talking to himself in the mirror. He would always put a positive spin on everything, for example the story of how he told himself he loved putting on fast greens one week and slow greens the next. His winning record speaks for itself.
So be aware of your self-talk. If a caddie spoke to you in such negative tones you would sack him, so be your own best caddie and cut out the sweeping statements that condemn you to always performing something badly. The best in the world learn to put mistakes behind them and use them to assist improvement rather than inflicting further damage.