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Have You Heard Yourself Lately? | Self-Talk For Success

Updated: Jun 4

Let's have a look at arguably the simplest and easiest way to improve your golf performances, how you feel about them, and how you feel about yourself...on and off the course.

You'll probably hear people mention 'self-talk' when talking about the golf mental game. If you're not sure what that is then it's pretty much what we choose to say to ourselves (in our head and out loud). So many amateur golfers are not aware of how much this can significantly impact their performance, both on the golf course and in everyday life. Positive self-talk can enhance confidence, focus, and resilience, while negative self-talk can do the exact opposite. This article explores ways you can use self-talk to improve your golf game and take those lessons off the course too.

A quick look at the Importance of Self-Talk

Self-Talk in Golf: Positive self-talk can help maintain concentration, manage stress, foster a growth mindset and bypass negative thoughts, allowing golfers to recover from mistakes more effectively.

Self-Talk in Life: In everyday life, self-talk shapes our perception of ourselves and our circumstances. It affects our self-esteem, decision-making, beliefs and overall happiness. Constructive self-talk promotes a positive outlook, enhances problem-solving skills, and improves emotional regulation.

Strategies for Effective Self-Talk

1. Recognise and Challenge Negative Self-Talk

The first step in improving self-talk is to become aware of unhelpful thoughts. Pay attention to your inner critic and challenge these thoughts by countering them with factual information. For instance, if you think, "I always mess up on this hole," counter it with, "I've birdied this hole before."

2. Use Positive Affirmations

I get a lot of resistance from amateurs when using the word 'affirmation' as there seems to be a misconception that it's all a bit fluffy and spiritual. Positive affirmations are simply short, powerful statements that can help reframe your mindset. In golf, an affirmation might be, "I am focused and calm." or if you get frustrated about bad scores, "Golf does not define who I am." In life, it could be, "I am capable and confident." Repeating these affirmations regularly can help reinforce a positive self-image.

3. Visualise Success

Visualisation is a technique where you imagine a successful outcome. For golfers, this might mean visualising an outstanding shot or a successful putt. In life, you might visualise yourself confidently handling a challenging situation. Visualisation primes your mind for success and can reduce anxiety. It doesn't need to be complicated, and often when you find yourself daydreaming about positive things in golf or life, we could class that as an excellent form of visualisation.

4. Stay Present

Both in golf and life, staying present is crucial. Mindfulness practices can help you stay grounded in the moment. In golf, this means focusing on the current shot rather than dwelling on past mistakes or future outcomes. In life, it means fully engaging with the present task or interaction. A good way to think about this would be to 'throw you attention out' when you find your mind wandering to past or future thoughts that aren't helpful (worrying about what has happened or will happen). What I mean here, is doing something to get your mind onto a practical task in the present moment... striking up a conversation with a playing partner or using self-talk to narrate whatever you're doing in that moment... both can work on and off the course.

5. Develop a Routine

Having a routine can create a sense of stability and control. For golfers, a pre-shot routine that includes positive self-talk can enhance focus and consistency. Direct your attention to what you want to do with your shot rather than what you don't want to do with it is a simple one. In life, establishing daily routines that incorporate positive self-talk can build a habit of constructive thinking - journaling can be really useful to do this.

Practical Applications

On the Golf Course

  1. Pre-Shot Routine: Develop a pre-shot routine that includes a moment of positive self-talk. For example, before swinging, tell yourself, "I am committed to this shot."

  2. Recovery from Mistakes: After an undesirable shot, use self-talk to stay positive. Say something like, "I can recover and do something good with that."

  3. Stress Management: When feeling nervous, use calming self-talk such as, "Breathe deeply and relax shoulders."

In Daily Life

  1. Morning Affirmations: Start your day with positive affirmations like, "Today, I will to do something difficult that makes me grow."

  2. Mindfulness Breaks: Take breaks during the day to practice mindfulness and positive self-talk. Remind yourself, "I am doing my best, and that's enough."

  3. End-of-Day Reflection: Reflect on your day with a focus on positive achievements. Replace thoughts like, "I didn’t get everything done," with, "Look how much I actually achieved."


Mastering self-talk is such a powerful tool for improving performance, enhancing well-being and improving confidence. By recognising negative patterns, using positive affirmations, visualising success, staying present, and developing routines, you can really leverage self-talk to achieve your goals in golf and life. I challenge you to try some of the suggestions in this article for a couple of days or rounds and just see if you feel any different. Put simply, if you're able to use and practice these strategies consistently, you will build a resilient and positive mindset that supports success in all areas of your life.

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Golf player | Golf Coaching & Lessons | Coaching Fore Success | Sheffield, UK
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