Whether it’s your first day on the course or you’re a seasoned golfer — being a woman in a sport dominated by men can feel intimidating and uncomfortable.
Many of us already deal with self-judgment, doubt, and negative self-talk in our daily lives. We expect perfection, both on and off the course.
But here’s the thing – golf is not a game of perfection. It’s a game of practice, progress, concentration, and most importantly, confidence.
Confidence is perhaps the most crucial characteristic of an exceptional golfer. It will support you in feeling secure when things don’t go your way or you’re faced with an uncomfortable situation. It’s the extra boost you need to overcome fear, have a positive mindset, and master anything that comes your way.
Read on for 10 ways to boost your confidence, be comfortable golfing with players of any level, and most importantly – relax and have fun!
1. Develop a relaxing pre-round routine.
How you feel (mentally, emotionally and physically) as you step onto the first tee is going to make a big difference to how well you play throughout the round.
Get into the swing of things (literally) with a relaxing pre-round routine. Since your practice shots don’t count, hitting the driving range or putting green before you play is a great way to calm your nerves and boost your confidence. It allows you to try out different techniques, find what feels good, and calm your nerves.
You can also use this time to focus on the present, practice deep breathing, remind yourself of past successes, and visualize success in the round you are about to play. Imprinting these images into your subconscious will help them become a reality.
Bonus: Take 5 minutes for this pre-golf meditation.2. Focus on your body language.
Do you ever feel uncomfortable or nervous teeing up in front of others? If so, you’re not alone.
Thankfully, there’s a simple hack you can use to increase confidence – body language!
How you position your body in space can shift specific hormones that impact confidence levels. In fact, standing in a “power pose” for just a minute increases testosterone (a hormone that increases feelings of confidence) and decreases cortisol (the stress hormone).
If you hit a shot you’re not happy with, avoid slouching, lowering your head, or making yourself smaller. Instead, stand tall, raise your chin, and take up space!
P.S. – Don’t forget to smile 🙂 Smiling activates muscles in your face that tell your brain to release endorphins, AKA “happy hormones”. It creates a feeling of positivity and well-being, helping to boost confidence.3. Start each hole with a positive thought.
The truth of the matter is, if you’re going to invest time and energy in golf, it’s a lot easier to be positive.
Make a conscious choice to start each hole with a positive thought or mantra (a meaningful phrase that inspires and motivates you). Words are powerful, and your mantra will help you redirect your brain from negative thoughts, frustration, or self-judgment.
Consider one of the following, or create one of your own:
- I am focused.
- I am present.
- I feel confident and relaxed.
- I have a naturally steady swing.
- I stay calm under pressure.
- I am grateful for this moment.
- I love and enjoy playing golf.
- I trust myself and my swing.
Don’t allow anything that happens on the course to upset you. Maintain a positive mindset and remember – you don’t have absolute control of where the ball goes, but you do have control of where your mind goes. By changing your thoughts, you will change your results.
When you have expectations, you set yourself up for disappointment. So rather than stressing about the results, focus on the present moment and your pre-shot routine (the process).
Don’t speculate in the middle of the round about what your score will be, or where you stand in the tournament. Stop analyzing your shots and criticizing yourself.
Instead, focus on each shot as it comes, and let that be all you care about.
Your pre-shot routine may already include practice swings, but what about visualization and breathwork?
These are two essential components to add to your routine. Visualizing your shot and steadying your breath will help you lessen anxiety, improve your swing, and build your confidence.
So how exactly does this work?
Visualization doesn’t require any physical skill to learn, and it’s one of the most powerful tools you have on the golf course. Visualization has been proven to:
- Stimulate the muscles necessary to perform an action
- Program the mind and muscles prior to playing
- Control pre-round nerves and relax the body and mind
- Re-frame from negative to positive outcomes
- Help with swing changes
- Improve concentration
- Reduce doubt and increase confidence
Your subconscious mind (which controls athletic movement) doesn’t know the difference between a real and imagined action. So, when you visualize a desired action, you’re stimulating the same muscles that you would use to perform the action in real life. In doing so, you synchronize your body and mind to increase your chance of success. You plant a positive image into your mind, and your body takes the necessary motions to bring that image into reality.
Seeing what you want to happen also gives your brain a sense of familiarity, which helps you feel more in control.
To visualize a shot, you need a clear image of yourself hitting the shot, and your desired ball flight. Make the picture as vivid as you can, and consider some of these prompts when visualizing your shot:
- What do you look like as you’re playing the shot?
- Is it a fade or a draw?
- Low or high?
- What speed does the ball have?
- How far onto the green does the ball land?
- How does it bounce when it lands?
- How does it roll to the hole?
- Does it go in?
- Does it barely make it? Or does it hit in the back of the hole and bounce in?
- How do you feel?
Don’t underestimate the power of the final question. When visualizing, it’s important to experience the positive emotions you want to feel.
By bringing your attention to your breath, you no longer focus on what happened in the past (your last shot), or what will happen in the future. Conscious breathing brings you into the present moment – the process of hitting a good shot. Try this breathing exercise to feel more relaxed, focused, and confident before every shot:
- Place your hands on your stomach. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, feeling your belly expand like a balloon.
- Pause briefly at the top.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth, pursing your lips as if you’re going to whistle. By pursing your lips, you have more control over how quickly you exhale. Feel your belly deflate underneath your hands.
- When your lungs feel empty, begin the inhale-exhale cycle again.
- Repeat this cycle three or four times.
Confidence grows in a nurturing environment, and that nurturing environment begins internally – with yourself.
Many golfers focus too much on the “bad” things that happen during their rounds, and don’t give themselves enough credit for their good shots.
It’s important to avoid ruminating on your weaknesses or the mistakes you’ve made. We attract what we focus on, so when you think about what you don’t want, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Instead, focus on what you do well. When you finish your round, reflect on your shots, internalize the good ones, and celebrate them. The more you can relive the great shots you played, the more confident you will become.
P.S. – Don’t forget to have fun! If you’re not having fun, there’s something wrong. Remember why you love golf. Enjoy the moment, and be grateful that you have the opportunity to play.7. React indifferently to bad shots.
One of the keys to becoming a better, more confident player is letting go of the past and staying in the present.
During a round, avoid becoming emotionally attached to bad shots. The longer you hold onto them, the more negative emotion you create, and the longer it will take to regain your confidence. If you hit a bad shot, look up to the sky or focus on the beauty of your surroundings to bring yourself back to the present moment.
When you finish your round, take a non-emotional, analytical view of what went wrong and think about what could have been done differently. And remember - focus mostly on what went well!8. Create a highlight reel of your past success.
Create a “highlight reel” by saving your greatest shots in your memory bank.
When you feel your confidence dipping, try to see those moments as vividly as possible, and remember how powerful you felt.
Recalling your greatest shots elevates your brain waves to produce similar movement patterns, lifts your spirits, and catapults your confidence levels.9. Believe in yourself.
Given two players of equal skill, the one who thinks more positively about themselves and their abilities will win every time.
Your body reacts to the degree of trust you’ve nurtured in your conscious and subconscious mind. When you believe in yourself, you have faith in your ability to complete tasks and achieve your goals. By judging yourself to be capable of success, you increase your probability of actual success.
When you doubt your ability, your body is more likely to lose its rhythm, grace, and timing. When you trust your shot, your body performs more freely and gracefully.
Stop doubting yourself. Trust your swing, and believe that you will succeed.10. Dress the part.
As a female golfer, there are a lot of rules regarding what you can and can’t wear, and it can be challenging to find golf apparel that you really love. It may look good, but feel uncomfortable. Or it’s comfortable, but has no style.
Not feeling confident with how you look (coupled with the insecurities that often come with being a female golfer) can create self-doubt and anxiety on the course.
On the other hand, feeling good about how you look is an easy way to put yourself in the right mindset and feel more confident. And that’s exactly why we created Olaya Sport.
Being a female founded and run company, we understand what you go through on the course. We know what you want and need to feel your best.
Olaya Sport is designed to flow with your swing, and also happens to be the most comfortable and best looking women’s golf wear made, if we do say so ourselves. 😉
Dress the part, and you’re guaranteed to look and feel your best – all while giving your A-game.
Hitting a shot in front of friends, driving a ball off the first tee, or playing in a tournament are all settings where you would love to feel more confident. And you don’t have to reach a certain skill level for it to happen. By implementing any (or all) of these tips, you can look your best, feel your best, and embody true confidence now.