Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shaken Confidence - The Answer

Continuing the series of Lesson Posts, this one is an extremely common challenge for everyone, athlete or not. It was submitted by @RandleGolf on Twitter.

"How do I stay confident while I'm not performing well?"

This is a question I receive every day, and if practiced consistently, can be game / life changing. The short term answer is simple in theory, more difficult in practice. Because of our emotional nature, staying calm and focused during these rough times in our first priority. Being able to see a clear picture of what's taking place is an important piece of this puzzle.

When things aren't going our way, and we begin to lose confidence, it's vital to look back to a time where we were playing our best. Draw from that experience(s), and bring it into our current situation. The key to this isn't the picture of past successes, but instead, the EMOTION that's linked to it. Our bodies react to emotion, so by attaching a positive and confident feeling to our past performance, it'll immediately bring a sense of restored confidence to our mind. Most fail when attempting to "draw from past experiences," due to this lack of visualized emotion. Visualizing a detailed picture of confident actions, and linking the powerful emotions to it, is absolutely critical!

For a long term solution, we must understand there are different types of confidence, but only one we should be striving for.

Fake Confidence

We pretend to act confident in all that we do, in order to hide how scared and insecure we truly are. We puff out our chest, talk about the wins under our belt, and make sure everyone knows that we know how special we are.

Dependent Confidence

Unfortunately, this is where most of us live, and is why this specific topic is discussed so often. We only feel confident and believe in ourselves when we're playing well. When we perform less than we think we should, all confidence disappears, and we begin to doubt all aspects of our our game. We hear it all the time, whether on t.v., from coaches, peers, or family:

"He's gotta find that confidence he had in the past... the type of confidence he had when when he was winning."

"When he starts playing better, he'll regain his confidence."

Sure, confidence can definitely be built upon when we're performing well, but doesn't have to be the only tool in our bag. The all-time greats understand that Dependent Confidence is a trap, inevitably leading to a loss of self belief.

True Confidence

This type of belief was there when we were born, and never leaves us. This intense confidence comes from deep in our core; a level of certainty that can't be taken away by anyone or anything. It's there during our highest level of performance, and remains after our most heart breaking defeat. It's an assurance that makes us feel invincible. Rather than a slave to our outcomes, we understand the true meaning of our steps, and belief in our process. We know we belong because of who we are as people, our preparation, passion, and dedication to our craft. This true confidence can't be shaken, no matter the result of our short term journey. It stays strong, and always reveals a true inner champion.

This is our goal. This is what we should be striving for in our every day preparation for greatness. This is the true definition of 1%!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Keep Losing It...

Continuing my series of Lesson Posts, I was contacted by golfer, @breadchick on Twitter, wanting to know why this continues to happen to her. Unfortunately, this is prevalent among all athletes:

"I seem to lose focus towards the middle/end of my round, holes 11-15, specifically. How do I stay focused longer?"

There are three things that immediately come to mind when asked about loss of concentration in sports.

1) Proper food and water intake.

This is crucial for long term, intense focus during competition, but can often be overlooked. Decision making is directly affected by lack of hydration and nutrients, especially over a 5 hour round of golf.

2) Having short term goals to focus on during play.

Very often, we get "mentally lost" during the round because of so much down time in between shots. I'm a huge advocate of breaking down each round of golf into 6 sets of 3 holes. This allows the player to stay intense for a longer period of time, and stay mentally present on the task at hand. Creating short term goals within every 3 hole span is the perfect way of keeping the mind focused and present. Mentally, 18 holes can feel overwhelming, and is easy to become overly concerned with the outcome of the round. By allowing the mind to focus on short term process and results goals, it enables you to stay focused on right now, eventually connecting to long term concentration.

3) Embrace the competitive moment!

This may be one of the most important lessons an athlete can learn. It becomes very difficult to lose focus during any event if you truly love the challenge of the situation. In fact, concentration levels of the all-time best athletes increase during these pressure moments. If you look forward to, and embrace this time, your focus will automatically intensify.

Every challenge you encounter creates an opportunity to take your game to the next level. Become the 1%!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where's The Switch?

I'm beginning a series of Lesson Posts, focusing on YOUR challenges and/or issues you're working through. Let me know what you want addressed.

Email me at dgingo@cox.net or send me a message at http://www.Twitter.com/@CoachDayne

The first topic comes from Paul on Twitter (@whywegolf). He's having a difficult time separating his conscious mind from his subconscious, "playing mind" on the golf course. 

Here's a piece from his latest blog post, Where's The Switch? http://www.whywegolf.wordpress.com:

"...According to everything I've read, I'm supposed to do the following as I evaluate my next shot: Check my lie, the wind, maybe even the ambient humidity, measure or estimate the distance to the target taking, into account any changes in elevation, and factor in how I've been hitting a particular shot or club. If I'm in a match, take into consideration the situation facing my opponent and/or partner. This sequence makes my mind sound like a television. I'm supposed to flick a switch, and leave the rational/analytical mode behind, and become more like the Dalai Lama... Where's the switch? How do I go from one mode to the next?"

This is a great question, and a challenge many golfers face. We tend to learn this game with our conscious minds first, learning how to incorporate our subconscious, "feel mind" later as we progress. 

On the course, Paul needs to know the information he described above, as it helps the mind put the pieces of the puzzle together. His challenge is coming from his inability to separate those detailed pieces with his need to let go and pull the trigger. While behind the ball, he needs to train his mind to "play in pictures," rather than thoughts (how he's currently approaching every shot). Take those details he described, and turn them into a detailed picture of how it will manifest. 

Taking the picture he created to address is done with Feel Triggers - specific words or a short sentence that will make his mind focus on a powerful and positive emotion. Our bodies react to emotion, so what we make it feel will be given back to us in the form of results. If, for example, we make our body feel fear, we'll take a timid, passive swing, resulting in a poor outcome. Conversely, if the last thing we allow our body to feel is confidence and power, it'll respond with a relaxed and aggressive swing, giving us a better result. Emotions are created by the words we choose to use, which is why paying attention to our specific self-talk is extremely important.

Examples of Feel Triggers: "Attack." "Trust it." "Commit and accept." "Right now." "Go." "I love these opportunities." "This is why I practice." Use your imagination, and choose whatever type of language that resonates with you. Again, the way in which you talk to yourself will evoke a specific emotion, producing an outcome that will match. Choose wisely!

After you've given your mind an opportunity to see a definite picture and use it's feel instincts, it's time to address the ball. At address, it's common for the conscious, thoughtful mind to want to become a part of the shot again. This split second can be the determining factor between a successful shot and one that goes astray. When the conscious part of your game is fighting for attention again, make sure and repeat your Feel Trigger(s) before take-back, as this will help the mind stay quiet and feel the emotion you've chosen. 

Taking the conscious mind out of the shot is difficult to do, primarily because this is how most golfers learn to play. Unfortunately, the mechanical nature of the game only reinforces this type of thinking. Change starts with the way you choose to practice. Taking the time to practice the feel and visual aspects of the game is absolutely critical for long term success on course. Make the time spent on the range 50% mechanical and 50% visual / feel. If you become discipline enough to work on your pre shot routine and Feel Triggers while hitting practice balls, you'll better connect the two on the course. 

1% will do whatever it takes to reach another, more successful level. Are you that 1%?!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What Time Is It?

It's not about whether you can or can't in the future ... it's about what you commit to doing right now!

Don't worry about the end game, focus on the strategies needed to get you there. The final piece to your puzzle will be dictated by the many smaller pieces put together along the way. It's natural to be concerned about whether or not you're good enough, worth it, or even deserve it, but the true secret to success is mastering this second. The future details will align themselves, based on your passion, discipline, and commitment to achieving this goal, right now.

You need the "carrot," but you don't need to know how it's going to taste until it's in your hands. The long term motivation is definitely necessary to help you stay on path, but the short term goal-setting is what allows you to keep moving forward on a steady pace.

Many fall short of reaching their long term goals because they get caught up in thinking about how "long" really could be. Others want it to be easy, unwilling to feel the inevitable pain of struggle or part time failure. Those who grab that carrot are the ones who understand it's this pain, sometimes often and consistent, that leads them to the prize. They've learned to keep it simple.

"Don't explain how the watch works ... just tell me the time" 

When you look at your watch, train yourself to focus on the seconds ticking by. It's those seconds that will determine your future!

Become the 1%.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What's It Gonna Be?

A student's mom recently emailed me, asking why her son wasn't fighting when things became tough. She thought it was my responsibility to make him battle, and love the pressure. I agree that I'm responsible for teaching him why he should fight, give him tools to make that fight easier... but only HE can make it happen!

I can't teach heart. I can't make you do anything you're not committed to doing. The 1% mindset is exactly that - a mindset, created by you, fulfilled by you. When you ask for my help, I'll give you my opinion on the best strategy that will maximize your chances of reaching goals ... but only you can take the necessary action.

When you hit three bad shots in a row, I'll suggest ways of keeping you focused on the next shot ... but you must be committed and discipline enough to make it happen.

When you walk two batters in a row, I'll give you mental tools to keep you focused on the very next pitch, helping you to stay in the moment ... but you must be fearless enough to attack the next batter, as if you hadn't walked anyone.

I'll create specific visualizations to help train your subconscious to learn a desired outcome ... but you must take the time to close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing, and see it all happening.

I can't teach heart. That's up to you! The fight is in your hands; in your control. It's your choice. What's it gonna be?