Putting Self-talk is the dialogue that we have with ourselves. It can either be positive or negative.
Here is the important part about self-talk as it affects your golf, and in particular your putting. What you say when you talk to yourself on the course plays a vital role in conditioning you for success or failure that day.
Unfortunately most of what we say is negative, and counterproductive. From an early age our brain has been negatively programmed as we have been brought up on being told what we can’t do rather than what we can do.
Our life is filled with an endless stream of NO PARKING rather than YOU CAN DO IT signs.
As adults we hear more bad news than good news every day. As a result most of what we think is negative. This affects the way we act. We see the glass more often as half empty rather than half full.
During a round of golf we are conditioned to think the worst about ourselves unless we take charge. For example, instead of thinking "I am going to sink this putt", the thought that automatically pops into our head is "I hope I don’t miss this putt."
As you think, so you will be. Our mental programming (the way we accept information as true from ourselves and from others) governs the way we think and act. Your words, your attitude, and your self-belief will either help you or hinder you, in life … and on the golf course.
You need to learn how to talk to yourself in new ways in order to override your old programming with its bad habits of beating up on yourself. You need to reprogram the dialogue you have with yourself out on the course and on the greens so it works in your favour.
Your brain believes what you tell it most often. It is time to cut out all forms of negative self-talk when you play golf and fill the void with positive chat.
These are mild examples of inner thoughts. Generally our internal dialogue is more toxic and often filled with language that would make us feel ashamed if spoken aloud.
As the spiral of negativity continues to drag us downwards, it eventually escapes from the confines of our mind and becomes audible to outsiders.
We become our own enemy and the chances are that our temper will soon get the better of us and erupt. Even a good putt is rewarded with a sarcastic remark. We punish ourselves despite any success we may have.
In broad terms the plan is for you to think more positively about your putting in spite of any short-comings that you may have. You must accept that you are never going to become a better than average putter if you constantly berate yourself on the green when you three-putt or miss a short putt.
Most golfers when they are having a bad day talk to themselves in ways that they would never talk to a stranger. They torture themselves with abuse. They poison their mind causing their brain to secrete negative chemicals adversely affecting their performance.
Your mind and your body work together. You can improve your brain’s chemistry by replacing any negative self-talk with positive affirmations. This will improve your putting game by freeing your mind from the destructive thoughts in your putting self-talk.
The next time you play, tune in to your self-talk, especially your putting self-talk. Listen carefully to your internal radio.
Try to treat yourself with more respect irrespective of your performance. Catch yourself doing something right and then reinforce it immediately with a compliment.
After the game or when you get home, jot down the less than complimentary things you said about yourself.
Recognise that before you can change something, you must know what it is.
Your eventual aim should be to become your own best friend, someone who is supportive of you. The tone you use to speak to yourself during your round, and especially your putting self-talk, should be upbeat and encouraging, come rain or sunshine. Negative self-talk should become a thing of the past. Something you used to do.
From my experience it is very easy to get down on yourself and call yourself names when things go wrong. Sometimes we do it without knowing we are doing it. Listen to the comments within your group and rate them as positive or negative.
Negative self-talk, like anger, does not help us to bounce back when our game is off. It typically has the opposite effect of dragging us down even lower. Now you know. The next time you play it's your call on how you are going to treat yourself.