It is very common in sports where the ball is still, that performers and coaches agree that the mental side of the sport is just as important as the physical side. Sports such as golf and snooker and events that require aiming for a target such as darts and archery allow for the brain to be infiltrated by negative language.
There is time. Time to think. Time to ponder. Time to worry. Time to think “What if”. I know having spoken to many golfers that there is too much time in the game to go over the negative aspects of your game and the conscious mind begins to replay every bad shot you have ever played. “I always hook it left on this hole” or “I always put it in the lake here”. In the field of Cognitive behavioural therapy there is a term called” shouldism” that is a term for people who should all over themselves. This is closely linked to (read this carefully) “mustibations” where people are swallowed up in a sea of ‘musts’. Neither term is particularly encouraging nor do they help with our performance. These ‘alwayses’ contain a very strong message behind them. So those of you who use ‘alwayses’ consider this:
“I always hook the ball on this hole?”
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the following exercise will help you banish those negative thoughts and allow you to introduce more resourceful, positive cognitions. What if you changed the word always to rarely? How would that change how you feel?
“I rarely hook the ball”
What about if you were to change the focus from negative to positive altogether? By using present tense language affirming your strengths and abilities, you will soon find a contrast in attitude and belief.
“I hit the ball straight”
By simply changing your cognitions, you are immediately transported to a more resourceful and confident state. I would point out that if you have technical deficiencies that do cause you to hook the golf ball or miss easy blacks that you seek out the assistance of a teacher or coach who can help with your technique. If on the other hand there is no obvious technical reason to explain your weakness, then it could be the words you use that are the cause of your problems and it would be worthwhile paying attention to the language you use.